A-B Departs As Team USA Sponsor, Dealing Another Blow To USOC
A-B InBev has ended its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team, becoming the latest in a string of high-profile partners to not renew with the USOC heading into a complicated Olympics cycle. The brewer’s Budweiser brand has been the first and only official beer of Team USA since '84. The '16 Rio Games marked the end of a four-year deal worth a reported $13M. The malt beverage category is now open with the USOC, along with hotels, banks and online brokerages following TD Ameritrade’s departure. “We continually evaluate our sponsorships as our business priorities evolve and we’re adjusting our portfolio to reflect those priorities,” said A-B InBev VP/Experiential Marketing Eelco van der Noll.
Budweiser last year used its domestic Olympic sponsorship rights to boost a summertime campaign that rebranded its beer as “America.” It signed deals with six U.S. athletes and sponsored two bars at the USA House in Rio. It also ran Olympic-themed ads for “America.” The beer’s embrace of the Olympics peaked in the mid to late-2000s, when it had deals with more than 30 national Olympic teams, as well as the ’06 Turin and ’08 Beijing host committees. Budweiser ran Club Bud party pavilions in Turin, Beijing, Vancouver (’10) and London (’12). WME-IMG is its sports marketing agency.
The USOC is facing headwinds going into a period in which three consecutive Games will be held in east Asia, scaring some sponsors worried about maintaining fan engagement. L.A.’s bid for the '24 Games also injects a great deal of uncertainty into future planning.