'Bud House' hosting 32 nations' fans

BY foxsports • March 25, 2010

Every soccer fan dreams of being on location for the World Cup - but maybe not side by side with fans from every other participating country.

But that's just what tournament sponsor Budweiser has in mind. It's gathering fans from all 32 participating countries to share a house in Cape Town, South Africa, for the summer and watch the games together. That is, until their home teams get eliminated.

"Bud House" is what Anheuser-Busch InBev is calling the reality show it plans to Webcast in conjunction with the World Cup, which starts June 11. It's a major part of the brewer's marketing of Budweiser as the World Cup's official beer.

"This is like an 'American-Idol'-meets-'Survivor'-meets-football thing," said Chris Burggraeve, chief marketing officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev, calling soccer "football," as it's known everywhere outside the U.S.

AB-InBev will air six to eight Webisodes each day and may stream some live. The last two fans left in the house will attend the final World Cup match, and the fan from the winning country will present the beer's most-valuable player award to the top player of the tournament.

Auditions are well under way to select the 16 men and 16 women who will start out the show, which is to be produced by Ridley Scott Associates, the parent company of several production outfits affiliated with English film director Ridley Scott.

This is the seventh World Cup where Budweiser will be the "official beer" but the first it will sponsor since Belgian brewer InBev bought Anheuser-Busch in 2008.

AB-InBev hopes to make the all-American brew into a global drink akin to Coca-Cola, a key reason it bought the St. Louis brewer. And The World Cup - a huge worldwide sporting event on par with the Olympics - presents a unique opportunity to launch that strategy, Burggraeve said.

"There's nothing as powerful as World Cup as a global platform for a global brand," said Burggraeve.

He wouldn't say how much AB-InBev will spend taking its message to more than 50 markets around the world with World Cup-related marketing. In countries where Budweiser is not a leader, InBev will market some of its leading local brands instead, such as Brahma in Brazil, Harbin in China and Jupiler in Belgium and the Netherlands.

AB-InBev aims to engage fans in several ways this year. People worldwide will be invited online to choose a "Man of the Match" from players in each game. The brewer is also again hosting its local, six-on-six soccer tournaments. And it will select 64 fans from around the world to be at the games to present the trophies, which fans also will help design.

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