Ambev's paid a high price for sponsorship at the Rio Olympics, but it was worth it.
The Brazilian beer company introduced it's Skol brand to the world of reusable souvenir cups, each one emblazoned with a different Olympic sport.
The strategy led spectators to guzzle hundreds of extra litres of beer in the hope to accquire the whole collection of 42 different cups.
Not only did Ambev sell vast amounts of beer, it has gotten the Skol name into kitchen cupboards across the world. (Globelet Director, Linda Jenkinson brought back 20)
The popularity of the Globelet concept makes sense at an event where T-shirts from the Rio 2016 megastore cost 95 reais ($30NZD), making a $13-real beer-and-cup offering a bargain.
The faceoff between Brazilian and Swedish women soccer teams the semi finals - based at the Maracana soccer stadium - demonstrated how much of a hit the cups were. Skol's beer stations were bustling with activity.
"Of course I'm buying more beer because of the cups," said Claudia Maria Dias de Sousa, 58, a physical education teacher from Belem, Brazil. "They're souvenirs for my friends from the Rio Olympics."
The collection of cups from every sport at the games
Dias de Sousa said she has collected eight of the hard plastic cups so far. She was overheard requesting a basketball cup because soccer had sold out. At a basketball game Saturday night, a spectator tossed one of the yellow and green cups into a trash bin at half time. Within a minute someone had retrieved it, adding it to a stack of more than 10 he was carrying around.
"People will go for the perception of getting something that's special and spend the extra money," said Joe Favorito, a sports marketing expert who teaches at Columbia University in New York. "It's a great branding opportunity for Skol."
Ambev, which is controlled by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, needed to deliver strong results at this year's Olympics. With Brazil mired in recession, the company sold less beer by volume in the second quarter than it has in the last seven years, while also losing market share to less expensive rivals. Chief Executive Officer Bernardo Pinto Paiva told investors on that 2017 could be better as consumer confidence recovers and inflation slows.
The idea was to pay homage to the different Olympic sports, instead the cups turned into a hot collector's item, Bruna Buas, Ambev's Olympics manager, said through a press officer.
In response to the cup craze and to promote responsible drinking, Ambev said it has set aside space at venues where fans can exchange cups as if they were Pokemon cards.
Skol's strategy isn't totally unique. Budweiser, which Ambev sells as a premium brand in Brazil, had a collectible cup at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Coca-Cola did something similar. But the gimmick of building a collection of Skol cups sets it apart. It also means beer salespeople must often negotiate the details of the cup before serving a beer.
Let's hope the All Blacks, NZ Cricket and stadiums want to get in support of a similar concept in New Zealand and Australia. Globelet is here to make it happen.