Russia to allow beer adverts until after 2018 World Cup

MOSCOW Wed Jul 9, 2014 10:09am EDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia, which is hosting the next soccer World Cup in 2018, will relax its ban on beer advertising until after the event, giving a boost to brewers including Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose Budweiser is the official beer of the tournament.

Russia is expected to spend around $20 billion on the World Cup and easing advertising rules will allow it to benefit from hefty marketing spending by AB InBev for the tournament.

The change to the advertising law allows beer and beer-based beverages to be promoted on television, provided the context is sports-related, as well as in print without restrictions. AB InBev's rivals such as SABMiller, Heineken and Carlsberg also stand to benefit from the amendment.

The move will "attract additional sponsorship revenue to support the organization, staging and development of sports events in Russia," Russia's Federation Council said on Wednesday.

It is not known exactly how much AB InBev spent on publicity for the current World Cup, but in June the brewer said it had boosted marketing spending by between around $600 million and $1 billion this year.

Russia, where beer was only formally classified as an alcoholic beverage in 2012, has been tightening alcohol market regulation in recent years, including banning advertising, as part of a campaign to curb alcoholism.

The advertising ban and a slowing economy had led to a beer market slump in 2013. Carlsberg holds the biggest share of the Russian beer market.

(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Mark Potter)

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