Life-sized foosball lands in Little Italy

Taking the beloved pastime to new, dizzying heights, Carlsberg is bringing a life-sized foosball table to Toronto's College Street for the Taste of Little Italy Festival. The enormous, inflatable soccer ring - complete with hand rail rollers, a goal and a ball, resembling a game the Friendly Giant would play in his over-sized rec room - is set to land on June 14 and 15 in Toronto.

Taking the beloved pastime to new, dizzying heights, Carlsberg is bringing a life-sized foosball table to Toronto’s College Street for the Taste of Little Italy Festival. The enormous, inflatable soccer ring – complete with hand rail rollers, a goal and a ball, resembling a game the Friendly Giant would play in his over-sized rec room – is set to land on June 14 and 15 in Toronto.

Called ‘The Human Gitoni,’ the 30′ x 50′ contraption will be set up in a parking lot and teams of five will be pitted against each other in the ‘Carlsberg Foosball Zone.’ Winners receive beer gear like hats and T-shirts. This is the first time the Gitoni has come to Canada; it’s been a staple in Europe for some time now.

Carlsberg, brewed and distributed here by Labatt Breweries of Canada, is an official sponsor of the festival. However, the colossal foosball competition is merely one component of a bigger program aimed at international soccer fans, specifically those watching the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

‘Soccer is such a popular sport in Europe and in Canada, and Carlsberg is a popular brand that sponsors many teams abroad,’ explains Kathy Murphy, a spokesperson for Labatt. ‘The strategy was to combine the two–soccer and our European image and heritage–into a unique promotion that celebrates international competition.’

For Murphy, linking soccer and Carlsberg’s European flavour with the festival and the World Cup was an easy fit considering that soccer fans are as devoted to the sport as they are to frosty beverages. The demographic fits as well. Carlsberg is targeting men and women in their ‘Carlsberg years,’ in other words, those who are twenty- and thirtysomething, because soccer fans tend to be older than the average sports fan.

In conjunction with the perennial soccer tourney, starting on May 13 and running until the end of June, Carlsberg is offering a chance to send beer drinkers to a European capital city.

The contest, called ‘World Caps,’ features a 1-in-9 instant sweepstakes, offering prizes like regular-sized foosball tables and Famous Players passes. Scratch and win cards are in six, 12 and 24 cases of Carlsberg, with the grand prize being a nine-day trip to Europe to watch a soccer game and soak up the capital’s culture through guided tours.

While Carlsberg is not an official sponsor of the World Cup (Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, has won that distinction), Murphy says celebrating international soccer via the World Cap contest and at the Taste of Little Italy Festival provides significant brand exposure for a beer that began in Europe in 1847.

The Taste of Little Italy Festival, in its fourth year in Toronto, is a two-day party that recreates a Mediterranean market with food, music and games. The event expects to draw over 200,000 visitors.