SBD/September 28, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

MillerCoors Suing Patriots, Says Team Violated Sponsorship Agreement

MillerCoors' current sponsorship deal with the Patriots expires in February
MillerCoors filed a lawsuit against the Patriots Monday, claiming that the team "reneged on an exclusive and more lucrative deal and chose to award that deal to its top competitor, Anheuser-Busch InBev, instead," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. MillerCoors has "been a sponsor of the Patriots for nearly 10 years" and said that it "negotiated an exclusive beer deal with the team that would begin at the end of this season and run through 2019." But the company indicated that "after the deal was signed and even commemorated with a dinner by the marketing agent working on behalf of MillerCoors and the Patriots sales team" the Patriots "decided it was not a valid contract and chose to do the deal, for the same category and time frame of seven years, with Anheuser-Busch InBev." The suit "asks for the exclusive agreement to be deemed valid and enforceable and that the brewer be awarded additional damages to compensate them for costs and good will." The Patriots currently "have deals, through this season with MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Boston Beer, parent company of Sam Adams" (CNBC.com, 9/26). MillerCoors spokesperson Pete Marino said, “We negotiated in good faith with the New England Patriots for several months, at their invitation, to become their exclusive and official beer partner after several years of a shared deal. Regrettably the team has now reneged on the deal that was reached, and we are left with no choice but to take legal action and ask the courts to uphold the integrity of our binding legal agreement.” Patriots attorney Dan Goldberg said via e-mail, "I have not seen any complaint or official filing yet, so I wouldn't be comfortable offering my comment." MillerCoors' current sponsorship deal with the Patriots expires in February (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 9/27).
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