SBD/Issue 152/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

A-B InBev Has Signed On As Lead Sponsor Of Ping Pong Tournament

A-B InBev has "signed on as the lead sponsor of the Bud Light Hard Bat Ping Pong Tournament, which started last month," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The brewery is backing Radical Media President of Media & Entertainment Robert Friedman and "several major partners, who think ping pong could be the next Texas Hold 'Em." A-B InBev VP/Marketing Keith Levy: "Bud Light has always been a fun brand. This fits in with what we've done with it in the past." Futterman reports the "brains and the money behind the tournament" are not just from A-B InBev and Radical Media, but also from Mark Gordon Co., which produces ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," and London-based FremantleMedia Enterprises, which produces Fox' "American Idol." Fremantle Exec VP Keith Hindle foresees a "variety of revenue streams from live ping-pong events, branded merchandise, sponsorships and league memberships." Hindle: "Table tennis is ripe for reinvention." Futterman notes the Hard Bat tournament began in March, with local A-B distributors "supplying Bud Light-branded ping pong tables to some 4,600 bars." Winners can "land an invitation to the tournament finals and play for the $100,000 prize in Las Vegas in late June." K-Swiss has "agreed to be the official clothing and footwear supplier for the event." The event "will be the focus of a two-hour television special that the organizers plan to air" on ESPN in September. Mark Gordon Co. Creative Exec Jordan Wynn: "It's poker eight years ago" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/27).

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