AN importer of a competing brand of ice beer says he is benefiting from the $20 million advertising campaign launched by San Miguel for its new product and that his brew was first on the market. Hahn ice beer, whose marketing livery is similar to that of Blue Ice, could derail San Miguel's expensive advertising push. Sales of Hahn have soared since the start of the campaign, and the importer of the Australian beer said he was joyous. The local importer of Hahn, Bob Marshall of Solar Max, said he brought in a trial shipment of the specialist beer to Hong Kong a ''few weeks'' before San Miguel launched its campaign, and it sold out. ''We then decided to bring in a container load and that is also sold out,'' Mr Marshall said. ''I plan to bring in more but it depends entirely on how much people drink. The more San Miguel advertise it, the more we will bring in. ''San Miguel has helped us a lot. It has increased brand awareness. Often a customer, when faced with an imported beer and the local San Miguel product, will go for us, the imported beer.'' Mr Marshall said judging by the feedback, San Miguel was angry. ''I think they are furious, absolutely livid. That is the feedback I have been getting. But so what; it is a free market,'' Mr Marshall said. ''Ours is a bigger bottle, it is stronger, I think it is a better beer and we can bring it from Australia and deliver it at the same price. ''But, then, we did not have to spend $20 million on the advertising campaign.'' This development represents a blow to San Miguel's ambitions for its specialist beer, the first locally produced brew in the ice beer category. According to Mr Marshall, the beer giant kept details of its launch secret, hoping to be a unique product on the Hong Kong market. But Blue Ice is fighting back. According to Liz Soeswanto, the public relations consultant for San Miguel's Blue Ice, latest figures show that sales have exceeded by 50 per cent the original forecast since the launch of the beer four weeks ago. She declined to reveal sales figures. She said the main goal of the product for San Miguel was to diversify away from its core product range towards niche products. ''It is still the number one pilsner brewer in Hong Kong,'' she said. ''But Hong Kong is changing. We are trying to cater for the changing tastes.'' Ms Soeswanto denied that the recent launch of San Miguel's Super Dry was a failure. Mr Marshall claimed the beer giant was even more sensitive about Blue Ice on this issue. Ms Soeswanto said: ''It was not really a failure. It was another niche brand. You do not see a lot of it visually because people are serving it in glasses. But it is still selling well.'' The Australian beer's potential, however, must be hurting those at San Miguel's head office. According to the general manager of marketing, Deojit Villadolid, the group invested 18 months in the development of the brand and was initially hoping to win up to two per cent of the market. Ms Soeswanto was confident that San Miguel would dominate. ''We are not angry. It is an open market. Beer does not really travel well and we will have the upper hand in the market because people prefer beer fresh from a brewery, rather than it travelling half way around the world.''