Sunday, June 18, 2006

fashion, football and freedom

Go Holland! Another reason to cheer for the Dutch: Anheuser-Busch , the makers of Budweiser, the most over-rated beer in history, won the exclusive rights to be official partners of the FIFA World Cup. Germany, the spiritual home of that liquid bread, has severe quality assurance laws which insure that their palates are never stained with swill like Bud. The Dutch have an even higher per capita beer consumption than Germany (second to the Czech in Europe and second within the country to the per capita consumption of coffee). Between industry giants like Heineken to the classic ceramic stoppered bottles of Grolsch, the Dutch beer market is vast and nuanced. Of course, they also do promotional campaigns, a recent one being from the Bavaria beer company: the national mascot is a lion (or a 'leeuw') and the national color is orange. So customers were offered a pair of  fuzzy orange lederhosen (a traditional Bavarian overalls-shorts one-piece) with a lion's tail, or ' Leeuwenhosen'. Of course, this consumer ploy involving ridiculous orange partywear and consuming a crate of beer seemed to capture some primal conflux within the Dutch psyche and they avidly acquired leeuwenhosen. I had to stifle schoolgirl giggles seeing a older couple in the market in this anthropomorphic fanwear. They looked like they were missing their giant cartoon lion heads. This weekend in Stuttgart, the Dutch team was playing a match against the Cote d'Ivoire, and fans had lined up wearing their leeuwenhosen, which happens to have a large Bavaria logo across the front. To protect A-B's franchise however, this ticket-holding patrons were refused entry. The male fans promptly responded in true Dutch fashion, removing the lederhosen to watch the game in their underwear. FIFA claimed hysterically this 'ambush' PR campaign was verboten. Only Duff beer served here, apparently. Holland won 2-1.

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