MOSCOW, Russia – The FIFA World Cup is universally regarded as the global sporting event of a lifetime. To that end, Budweiser and the Bahamian Brewery & Beverage Company sent a lucky winner on the “Trip of a Lifetime.”
Anthony Bullard was selected as the winner of Budweiser’s global promotion, and as the winner from the Bahamas, joined other winners from around the world for a week of football, fellowship and of course, beer, at the FIFA World Cup in Moscow, Russia.
“I was always a Budweiser drinker, but when I saw the promotion I just happened to buy more than I used to do. I usually got a six-pack, but in this instance, whenever I went to buy Budweiser I bought a case,” Bullard said, “I was playing softball and we have a deal – when you strike out, you have to buy a case. So, I have to say, this was one strikeout worked for me.”
The “Trip of a Lifetime” was just one aspect of Budweiser’s “Light Up the FIFA World Cup” promotion aimed at global advertising and social media activation surrounding the world’s biggest sporting event.
The highlight of the week-long schedule of events included tickets to a thrilling Group E matchup between Brazil and Serbia at Moscow’s Spartak Stadium.
Goals by Paulinho and Thiago Silva have steered a much-improved Brazil to a 2-0 victory over a battling but ultimately outclassed Serbia and into a World Cup second-round meeting with Mexico. Brazil finished top of Group E on seven points, two ahead of the Swiss, who will face Sweden in the last 16. Serbia ended in third place on three points and are eliminated along with Costa Rica.
Over 44,000 rowdy fans, mostly a sea of yellow-clad Brazilian enthusiasts, watched with eager anticipation at every opportunity for their star forward Neymar Jr and his efforts to score a goal.
For much of the evening, the Brazilian fan base overpowered the cheers of pockets of Serbian supporters from the opening kick.
Bullard had previous experience with the game as a hospitality officer when the Bahamas hosted the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, but said the World Cup experience, particularly watching the Brazil experience live brought a new perspective and appreciation for the sport.
“I know soccer and I appreciated it, but it was just a different experience seeing the game played at this level, before these many passionate people on the biggest stage in the world. I got familiar with the game in my time working with the team from Senegal during the Beach Soccer event and I’m always around the softball field and soccer pitch is right there so I go over from time to time and have a look so it always piqued my interest,” he said, “When I heard that I won this I wanted to watch Senegal because of my experience working with them or one of the others teams from Africa, but to see Brazil was amazing because they are like an international global brand. The stadium setup was amazing. When they showed the attendance on the board with over 44,000 people in attendance but it still felt intimate enough to make it a great experience. Even if you are not a fan of one of the particular teams, the excitement grabs you.”
The excitement began from the moment we landed in Moscow, we were greeted by Budweiser personnel and were subsequently transported to the Bud Hotel at Ulitsa Tverskaya. During the whole World Cup, The Intercontinental Hotel had been transformed to an entertainment hub and 24-hour interactive atmosphere bustling with activity.
Guests were able to taste dishes from the menu which was specially designed for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and try the SPA programmes. The Bud Loft also hosted a number of parties on the 12th floor of the hotel included a special space called Bud Studios, arranged for bloggers for content editing and promotion.
The lobby included a big-screen viewing area, bar, arcade games and several coolers filled with Budweiser, available at the leisure of guests at any moment.
“Coming to Russia I didn’t know what to expect, but everything was smooth, well thought out and well planned straight through. Budweiser all over the world did an incredible job with this because they made us feel not just like guests, but everyone in the Bud Hotel felt like royalty,” Bullard said, “I was awe at the whole thing from the moment we stepped into the lobby and how thorough they were with the branding. Budweiser was literally everywhere from the floor to the ceiling, to the robes in the bathrooms and the people were so accommodating. I have so much Budweiser merchandise now I can wear something new or drink out of a new cup every day.”
The “Trip of a Lifetime” experience offered more than tickets to the Brazil vs Serbia match and all of the complimentary Budweiser guests could ask for. There was a screening of the Nigeria vs Argentina match in the Bud Hotel lobby while the England vs Belgium match was viewed on the custom Bud Boat followed by an afterparty.
Guests also had an opportunity to learn about the rich culture and history of the city of Moscow. There was dinner at Café Pushkin (located just feet away from the square named after the famous Russian poet and playwright) with its antique décor, dinner at Saxon + Parole and a city tour educating guests on some of Moscow’s most internationally renown landmarks – Red Square, The Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Moscow Metro Stations, Hermitage Museum and much more.
“The tour around the city of Moscow was one of my favorite experiences,” Bullard said, “You have to love all the rich history you get to learn about and see it firsthand right there in the moment. You have one perspective of things when you only read about it or hear about on TV or in the news, but being in the city and visiting all these historic landmarks really captured our attention and made us fall in love with this city.”
He reflected on the day in May when he learned that he won the promotion and the competition that began between his friends and family in an effort to convince him to join him on the journey.
“That day I was at work and I lost my phone. About an hour later I got the call telling me I won the grand prize and the trip to Russia. So, right then I had to drop whatever I was doing and head to Jimmy’s No.2 on Nassau Street. The whole time I was fighting through traffic I was wondering if any of this was real. They had the Budweiser promotion out there and it sunk in that it was real,” Bullard said, “Every I know wanted me to take them on this trip when they heard about it. Everyone I know from my boss, to the people I work with, to people that play or are very into soccer, everyone wanted to go. Some people even offered to pay me for it, but I said to myself, I had to have this experience in Russia. There’s no amount of money in the world that would have gotten me to give this up.”
Bullard was accompanied by his wife, Dolores, on the trip to Moscow.
“I was in denial at first but everyone started sending me the newspaper clipping saying he had won. My mind started shifting to preparation right after that,” she said, “Every night we saw the game in a different place and the organizers had everything running like clockwork. We really felt privileged and it was an unbelievable experience.”
Winners from around the world will continue to take up residence at the Bud Hotel in Moscow for the duration of the World Cup.
Major highlights of the “Light Up the FIFA World Cup” campaign include global advertising featuring the largest beer delivery to date, the deployment of eight million noise-activated Red Light Cups that light up in response to fan cheering, and a variety of integrated experiential, digital and social programs launching in more than 50 countries.
“This trip was such a learning experience,” Dolores said, “I learned about the passion of soccer and soccer fans, I learned more about the city of Moscow but the most important thing I learned is that I became a new Budweiser drinker, thanks to Bahamian Brewery & Beverage.”