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Beers battle in World Cup campaign

– Ambev is pitting its top Brazil beer against its own best Argentina seller in World Cup advertisements that play up a rivalry between the soccer-obsessed nations.

In Skol’s television ad, Brazilian soccer fans lure their Argentine counterparts into a house that’s then packed up and shot out of a cannon back to Buenos Aires. Quilmes’ dig is more subtle. At the end of the commercial a narrator intones: “You’ll regret you issued even one ticket,” referencing reports that demand for tickets from Argentines topped supply.

The fact that both brands belong to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Ambev SA makes the strategy unusual, said Leslie Farnsworth, chief executive officer of FrogDog, a Houston-based marketing strategy consultant. Inbev, based in Leuven, Belgium, also owns U.S. favorite Budweiser and Belgium’s Stella Artois. The two nations faced off on the soccer field Tuesday, with Belgium beating the American team 2-1.

“Playing into that national fervor, especially around the World Cup, makes a lot of sense,” Farnsworth said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know of a precedent where a company has owned both brands and then has decided to position them like this.”

Brazil and Argentina are among the favorites to make it to the World Cup final. Bloomberg Sports forecasts Brazil has a 28 percent chance of winning, compared with 19 percent for Argentina. The nations first played each other 100 years ago – Argentina won – and the rivalry between the neighbors has only heated up since.

The Quilmes ad shows a Brazilian fan being wrapped in a blue-and-white Argentine flag after being conquered, while Brazilians sing in the Skol commercial that no one knows the Argentine anthem so they decided to make one up.

Skol created other similar ads poking fun at the English and Italians, among others, as part of its “Welcome to Our Surroundings” marketing campaign.

The ads show Brazilians welcoming foreigners in a “fun way that taps into the irreverence and good humor of the soccer culture,” Skol said in an email response to questions. “The idea behind the campaign was to play with the peculiarities of each country and at no time to offend any nationalities.”

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