Brand chaos at AB InBev Germany

Incoming Country Director faces trademark drama

Munich-based news outlet Inside Beer reports of confusion over the launch of AB InBev’s flagship beer Budweiser on the notoriously tough German market. Quite why the world’s biggest brewer believes that an American light lager is what Germany needs is a separate issue, but we will have to wait to find out as the roll-out has been postponed at the last minute.

The reason given is a trademark conflict with two existing European beers. The stand-off with Czech icon Budějovický Budvar is well documented and has resulted in AB InBev unable to sell a beer called “Budweiser” in most of Europe. The shortened form of “Bud” was permitted during the 2006 World Cup but ordinarily conflicts with the nickname of Bitburger: “Bit”. It seems a grand re-launch of “Bud” was planned to coincide with Superbowl LIV but has now been moved to April as agreement with Bitburger was sought.

Inside Beer connects this oversight to a high turnover at senior management level in Germany, where AB InBev already owns Spaten/Franziskaner and Beck’s, and recently took a stake in Munich microbrewer CREW Republic. Current boss, the 30-year-old Michel Pepa, took over in November 2019 and is the 12th Country Director in 18 years. This may not be the last mis-step for AB InBev Germany.