Latvian anthem boosts Budweiser sales

  • 2000-11-09
  • TBT staff
RIGA - U.S. beer company Budweiser has used the Latvian flag and national anthem in a television advertisement, angering some here, reported the Latvian national daily Diena.

The new advertisement is being broadcast on Canadian television and can be seen on the Internet as well.

The ad starts with an Olympic-style awards ceremony. Two athletes dressed in the dark red uniforms of Latvian sports teams are standing on awards pedestals waving to the crowd. The Latvian flag is hoisted and the anthem begins.

The Latvian sportsmen are moved to tears, but suddenly a group of American football players congratulate them by throwing buckets of ice over their heads, a common gesture of victory in American sports.

After the ice showers a joyful voice in the background says "Let the real games begin!"

Then everyone is asked to buy Budweiser beer. Nowhere is Latvia mentioned but the country's flag and anthem are prominent.

The commercial is essentially a parody of the Olympics as Budweiser is a main sponsor of the National Football League.

But some observers here have taken the use of the Latvian anthem and flag to heart.

"It is not flattering for Latvia, but such an advertisement does not require official [sanction] of the state institutions," said Jurgis Liepnieks, the campaign adviser for Latvia's People's Party in the interview with Diena.

"Budweiser is famous for such aggressive and sneering advertisements. The company has won this year's Gold Lions award in Cannes for one of its advertisements" he said.

Others said the ad offered a chance for Latvia to get some free international publicity.

"We have to react with humor and understanding that not everything is directed against us," said Ojars Kalnins, the director for the Latvia Institute, the main institution responsible for the country's image abroad.

He said that some American-Latvians wanted to stage protests against the ad by boycotting Budweiser beer. "There is more important things to protest against," Kalnins stressed. "A good Latvian doesn't drink Budweiser anyway, especially now, when you can buy Aldaris beer even in the U.S."