SBD/Issue 161/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

A-B Replacing Coors As NFL's Beer Sponsor Beginning With '11 Season


When InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch in November ‘08, there was angst across the industry that sports' biggest spender was going to pull the plug. It looks like those fears were unfounded, as Coors is out and A-B is back as the NFL’s league sponsor in the beer category, with rights that begin in the ‘11 season. Terms were not immediately available, but sources said A-B is paying twice what Coors paid. It is a six-year contract, which includes an extension of A-B’s Super Bowl advertising category exclusivity through the deal. Those rights were due to expire in 2012. Unlike the existing contract, spirits rights are not included, so the NFL is now free to sign a spirits sponsorship, which would have to begin after next season.  Coors has been an NFL league sponsor since ‘02. A-B was an NFL sponsor from ’88-‘01, sharing the category for some of those years with Miller. “The sponsorship did a lot for Coors as far as getting out front of competitors like Bud and Miller,’’ said a knowledgeable industry source, “but they just reached a point where the value wasn’t there for what the NFL wanted.’’ A-B’s domestic share of the beer market is around 50%, while MillerCoors combines for 31%. With 22 team sponsorships, including a huge Cowboys deal for another decade, MillerCoors will not walk away from the NFL, although a year as a lame duck will not be easy. And of course, its NFL coaches campaign could run with or without NFL IP.

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