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Mardi Gras becomes beer battleground.

Mardi Gras becomes beer battleground

The Mardi Gras celebration that begins this weekend in Galveston, TX, not only features floats and parades, but also beer battles. Competition between Miller and Budweiser has become so fierce, beer delivery men reportedly are turning off competitors' taps and switching out coaster and table ads.

When Miller won a bid to be designated as the "official beer of the Mardi Gras," Budweiser retaliated by setting up its own schedule of shows for the celebration featuring "the Krewe of Brew," a huge night parade and a party Friday night featuring Bo Diddley.

The winners of the battle may be the 800,000 revelers who attended the Mardi Gras festivities. By the time the foam stopped flowing on February 27, Galveston saw twice as many big floats as last year, two extra parades and a concert thanks in large part to the marketing fray.

"Might as well take advantage of a marketing opportunity," said Larry Del Papa, captain and founder of the Krewe of Brew and president of the Galveston Budweiser distributorship, Del Papa Distributing Co. The theme was important because Mardi Gras rules limited advertising to a sign on the vehicle pulling the float.

But Stacy Dienst of Dienst Distributing, the Galveston Miller distributor, called the tactics "ambush marketing."

Dienst said Budweiser made an extraordinary effort because the Houston-Galveston area is one of the few places where it has a brewery that its beer isn't No. 1.

Miller Lite is the No. 1 selling beer locally and in Texas, while Budweiser is No. 1 nationally, Dienst said.

As the "official beer" of Mardi Gras, Miller had its banners on display while a band played in Old Galveston Square. The large, outdoor party continued into the night Saturday, while the Budweiser parade made its way along the seawall.

Budweiser, calling itself the "King of the Mardi Gras" in a series of radio advertisements, was one of several sponsors for the Bo Diddley party, which included eight bands. The 225 members of the Krewe paid to have 10 large floats built in New Orleans and shipped to Galveston by barge to be the heart of the Krewe of Brew parade Saturday night that could have been the largest of Mardi Gras, Del Papa said.

Miller also is the primary sponsor of a new group, called the Krewe of Gambrinus, held its parade the night of February 23. But Del Papa calls Miller's Krewe a "knee-jerk" reaction to Budweiser's plans.

The competition between Miller and Budweiser is always fierce, particularly when a good partying crowd is at hand, Del Papa said.

But this time, Anheuser-Busch, Inc., routed extra money into the Mardi Gras effort. "The normal policy is to match wholesaler's dollars, and they are doing that plus some," Del Papa said.
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Title Annotation:Mardi Gras celebration, Galveston, Texas
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 26, 1990
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