French law forces A-B to drop stadium signs

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ST. LOUIS -- Anheuser-Busch, the U.S. brewer and one of the 12 world- wide sponsors of 1998 FIFA World Cup, has given up its fight to advertise its Budweiser brand on outdoor boards at French stadiums where soccer's premier event will take place. A-B has sold the advertising boards com- ponent of its FRANCE 98 sponsorship to Japanese consumer electronics group Casio Computer Co. for an undisclosed amount. Casio will use two billboards at each stadium to promote its G-Shock sports watch.

France's Evin Law bans advertising and sponsorship by alcohol companies from appearing on television. The two bill- boards could have been seen on French TV. A-B had hoped that authorities would allow it to leave the outdoor boards white and then place virtual reality ads on TV broadcasts outside France.

"The sale of our in-stadium field signs does not affect our FRANCE 98 sponsorship in any other way," says Tony Ponturo, VP of corporate media and sports marketing at A-B. The brewer will continue to use the World Cup logo on its packaging around the world. A-B will continue to air three World Cup TV ads on network and cable TV broadcasts as part of the brewer's global advertising campaign.

"The sale of our boards became necessary as a result of France's Evin law, which prohibits sports sponsorship by alcohol companies. We remain opposed in principle to this law because strong evidence exists that advertising does not cause alcohol abuse and that education and awareness programs are the most effective answer to solving the problems of abuse,'' Mr. Ponturo says.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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