SBD/August 12, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

A-B Counting On NFL Sponsorship To Provide A Lift In The U.S.

Bud Light returning
as NFL's official beer
A-B InBev is preparing to kick off its return as an NFL sponsor "in a big way, with a TV campaign and in-store activation that will leverage Bud Light's sponsorship deal with the league," according to EJ Schultz of AD AGE. A-B execs are "not bashful about predicting big returns on its NFL investment." A-B plans to "launch an NFL-themed TV campaign soon," via Cannonball, St. Louis. A-B InBev CEO Carlos Brito said the effort will be "coupled with the strong digital platform to drive consumers to retail." Schultz reported Bud Light also will begin a 60-city tour during which consumers "compete in football skill tests, with the winning teams earning a trip to the Pro Bowl." While the brewer reported global revenue growth of 3.7% in Q2, it "could use a lift in the U.S., where it said sales-to-retailers dropped 3.4% in the quarter." During an earnings call, Brito "repeatedly pointed to the NFL deal as a key to springboard Bud Light to new growth." But it "remains to be seen whether the brewer can recoup the hefty cost of the sponsorship," which it is taking over from MillerCoors. The sponsorship gives A-B the "right to use the NFL shield and other logos in advertising and retail displays." It also offers "certain intangible benefits, such as cache with retailers, as well as the ability to use footage in promotions." But Schultz noted MillerCoors is "hardly expected to cede the field to A-B." MillerCoors CMO Andy England earlier this year said the brewer "will still be all over NFL broadcasts." In addition, MillerCoors "has sponsorship deals with 21 of 32 teams -- including a few exclusive deals in key markets such as Dallas and Chicago -- meaning it can use team helmets in ads or in-store promotions" (ADAGE.com, 8/11).
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