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Miller Brewing Co. intends to capitalize on the popularity of unusual sports and things Australian with sponsorships of boomerang competitions for its Foster's import brand.

As the sponsor of the biennial World Boomerang Championship, to be held next month in St. Louis, Miller will support a team of boomerang stars -- called Foster's Boomerang 2000 -- that will tour the U.S.

The sponsorships fit neatly into a marketing plan that has built Foster's by accenting its antipodean heritage. Miller this year is stepping up its wry "How to speak Australian" campaign (AA, March 23).

It also is running a promotion that offers trips to Australia and supports Aussie rules football as well.

Paine & Associates, Beverly Hills, Calif., is handling the boomerang effort.


Foster's has been growing quickly, with sales climbing 24% to 6.8 million cases last year, according to industry newsletter Impact. The brew outpaced the import segment's growth rate of 13%.

"We want to help people in America learn about a traditional Australian sport," said a brewery spokesman.

Foster's is imported by Molson USA, a partly owned subsidiary of Miller. While an Australian brand, the beer distributed in North America is brewed in Canada.

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