SBD/August 25, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

MillerCoors Signs Deals With 23 Colleges, Plans Integrated Advertising Effort

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Responsibility messaging will make up large part of MillerCoor's collegiate advertising
MillerCoors is extending its reach into college sports by striking deals with 23 schools, including blue-chippers like Arizona State, California, Clemson, Colorado, Penn State and Washington. Some of the schools represent renewals of deals that have been in place for years, while other schools either did not have a sponsor in the beer category or have switched from a competitor to MillerCoors. More schools are expected to come on board as the beer company adds to its list of sponsorships. MillerCoors is in the process of developing an integrated plan that includes heavy responsibility messaging, hospitality, tickets, media buys and point-of-sale materials for its retail partners. MillerCoors VP/Media & Marketing Jackie Woodward said the company still is working with the schools to determine how much of the advertising will be responsibility-based, but she said it will be a significant portion of the program. Among the restrictions is that MillerCoors cannot use school marks on its bottles, cans or any other packaging. The beer maker also cannot use actors to portray athletes or the likeness of an athlete in its promotional materials. “We have a very strong history of marketing to legal drinking-age consumers and we have a very strong commitment to the responsibility message,” Woodward said. “That’s integral to these deals.” The ad inventory for MillerCoors includes TV, radio, print and online. It can use school marks in those ads and on point-of-sale material. “We have been advertisers in college sports for many years,” Woodward said. “What you’re seeing is that we’re working with a broader responsibility platform, as well as marketing directly to alumni.”

WORTH MORE THAN $10M ANNUALLY: The contracts were brokered by IMG College and Learfield Sports, the two most prominent multimedia rights holders in the college space. MillerCoors was represented by its sports marketing agency, Genesco. Terms of the deal were not announced, but industry sources believe that combined they are worth in excess of $10M a year. MillerCoors says that the full cost for the college sponsorships is being covered by the brewer and will not be passed on to distributors. In addition to these school deals, MillerCoors has made a large media buy on FSN’s college broadcasts, as well as a promotional buy with the Pac-12. FSN represents Pac-12 Properties. MillerCoors will be running a series of 10-second vignettes featuring the Coors Light brand and a responsibility message on 175 games televised by the network. Co-branded MillerCoors and Pac-12 point-of-sale materials will be at retail throughout the conference’s footprint offering chances to win tickets to the Pac-12 football championship game. Five of the 23 schools in the MillerCoors portfolio are from the Pac-12.
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