Anheuser-Busch has dropped its Bud Pong promotion. The company said it notified distributors the promotion was over after executives found Bud Pong was being played improperly.
The announcement came two days after a front-page article in The New York Times described college students enjoying the game in bars and off-campus housing.
Francine I. Katz, vice president for communications and consumer affairs, said, “Despite our explicit guidelines, there may have been instances where this promotion was not carried out in the manner it was intended.”
Anheuser-Busch executives said Bud Pong was different than beer pong, a drinking game played on college campuses and in bars in which players toss or hit table tennis balls into cups of beer. The game usually involves chugging large amounts of beer; when one team sinks a ball into a beer cup, the other team is required to drink the beer. Katz said that Bud Pong was different from beer pong because Bud Pong rules call for water to be used, not beer.
A-B began its Bud Pong campaign last summer and provided tables, balls and glasses to distributors in 47 markets, several in college towns. The distributors helped organize tournaments and, Katz said in an interview, Anheuser-Busch was considering expanding Bud Pong and trying to trademark the name.
Alcohol prevention experts who criticize beer companies for trying to appeal to under-age drinkers called Bud Pong a perfect example of that practice. In the company press release Katz said, “As a company that has invested more than $500 million to promote responsible consumption among adults and to discourage abuse, we believe it is important that our intentions with Bud Pong not be misperceived.”