NASCAR and Business: A Lesson In Protectionism

Matt MercerCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2008

The news that Anheuser-Busch was selling to InBev is a blockbuster in the brewing world, as two companies that can benefit from each other agreed to merge. However, if you live in the US during an election year, it can get downright...pathetic.   Budweiser's being bought by foreigners!  I'm never drinking Bud again if some European buys them!  Slow down, Billy Bob. Odds are you've been drinking beer produced in America and owned by foreigners for some time now.  Miller Brewing Co., which makes the Miller family of beers (Miller Lite, MGD, Miller High Life, etc.) is owned by... SABMiller, which is based in South Africa. Oh noes~!  Coors Light is made by MolsonCoors, which merged in 2005. Canadians run Coors? It's not a one-room brewery in Colorado? Who knew?  In fact, Miller and Coors are marketed by the same people in the US! Isn't capitalism grand?  Still, with Budweiser, it's bigger, because A-B has the largest market share of the US. Yet this just follows a trend in the beer and spirits market, in which companies try to shore up their markets in other countries.

Hell, Diageo lays claim to Guinness, Red Stripe, Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, and Captain Morgan, just to name a few. It would have stupid of A-B not to listen to InBev, because their shareholders are getting a great deal. It's a win-win for both sides.

This is no different than Toyota outrage in 2004 through 2007, as people kept talking about "American cars" only competed in NASCAR when Toyota was building more cars in the US than Chevy or Ford. The tip of the iceberg was saying those things about foreigners when German company Daimler-Benz owned Chrysler.

Last I checked, Miller Lite still sponsored the No. 2, and Coors Light made a big-time deal with NASCAR to sponsor the pole award and get its sticker on every car competing.   In closing, I'm a lot less opposed to this deal because it's part of a pattern. It's a good business deal, and it will only add to the beer portfolio in the grocery store. Finally, I'm a lot less opposed because free trade benefits everyone, despite what election-year news cycles try to tell you.