ST. LOUIS (AP) — Anheuser-Busch (BUD) will discontinue a national promotion called "Bud Pong," a drinking game the company says is supposed to be played with water.
However, participants in the game — played with a ping pong ball and plastic cups — often were drinking beer as they lost points, according to a front-page story Sunday in The New York Times.
The No. 1 U.S. brewer has been promoting Bud Pong competitions since July, supplying tables, balls and glasses to wholesalers across the United States.
Players on one team try to sink a ball into another team's liquid-filled cups. If successful, the opposing team must drink.
Anheuser-Busch says the game's instructions called for water to be consumed during play, not beer, which is the company's main product.
"It has come to our attention that despite our explicit guidelines, there may have been instances where this promotion was not carried out in the manner it was intended," Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Francine Katz said in a statement Tuesday.
Katz says the promotion was meant to provide a fun activity at bars.
"However 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. While we will continue to bring interactive promotions to bars and taverns for those of legal drinking age, we are ending Bud Pong."
Anheuser-Busch CEO Patrick Stokes said recently that the company is trying to promote beer drinking as it loses market share to other alcoholic beverages like spirits and mixed drinks.
The nation's leading brewer has launched separate nationwide promotions to encourage beer drinking. Anheuser-Busch is distributing recipe books to encourage bartenders to mix beer cocktails using ingredients like grenadine and tomato juice.