SBD/March 23, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

A-B Renews Founding Partnership With MLS For Four More Years

A-B in '95 became the first major American brand to sponsor the startup MLS
Anheuser-Busch has signed a four-year extension to its founding partnership with MLS, "but for the first time the beermaker has given up exclusive local rights to MLS teams," according to Fred Dreier of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The renewal includes four-year extensions with the U.S. and Mexican national teams, and industry sources estimated the total value of the deal, which was negotiated by A-B and Soccer United Marketing, at more than $10M. A-B VP/Media, Sports & Entertainment Marketing Mark Wright said that the brewer will "continue to promote its Budweiser and Budweiser Chelada brands at MLS games and U.S. national men’s team events, and Bud Light at U.S. national women’s team and Mexican national team games in the United States." A-B will "retain media spots and signage at all nationally televised MLS games and will retain use of all league and team marks." It also will continue its presenting sponsorship of the MLS Pub Program and the "Golden Boot" award. But the brewer is "losing exclusivity within local markets, something the league asked for during the negotiations after receiving continued pressure from clubs." MLS informed clubs that it "would be opening up local rights several months before signing the renewal with A-B." A-B was the "first major American brand to come on board with MLS" in '95, a year before the league's inception (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/21 issue).
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