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Volume 25 No. 4

Marketing and Sponsorship

Simpson began wearing the Burns & Wilcox logo on his shirt at the beginning of the '17 season
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Wholesale insurance broker and underwriting manager Burns & Wilcox "got a double victory" on Sunday as Webb Simpson, who wears the company's logo on his shirt, won The Players Championship and fellow endorser Jimmy Walker finished tied for second, according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. The firm has been "investing in sports marketing" since the start of '16 and is "seeing dividends." Simpson began "wearing the Burns & Wilcox logo on his shirt" in January '17 at the Sony Open, and the firm "extended his deal a few months later." The caddies for both golfers "also wear the logo, and it's on Simpson's golf bag and towel." Burns & Wilcox Chair, President & CEO Alan Kaufman said that the company "plans to expand its sports marketing investments, but isn't yet prepared to discuss details." Burns & Wilcox also has its logo "on the ice at Little Caesars Arena under a deal struck in September." It also has a "branding deal signed in March" with Red Wings LW Justin Abdelkader. The company "uses its golf sponsorship to build brand awareness and to provide access to exclusive events for clients." It had a corporate hospitality tent at TPC Sawgrass last week and "staged a meet-and-greet with Simpson and Walker for clients and employees on Thursday." Kaufman said that it will have an "even larger tent" at Colonial Country Club next week for the Ft. Worth Invitational (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 5/14).

The head of A-B InBev’s sports marketing portfolio said that despite the rise in recent years for craft brews in the U.S., light beer maintains a “much greater in-venue share” at sports facilities. A-B InBev Head of U.S. Sports Marketing Nick Kelly: “It varies greatly by market, but can be closer to 75%.” Kelly also noted consumption of lighter beers in sports venues has not seen quite the decline that those same beers have seen in the general marketplace, but that craft and imported beer, along with flavored malt beverages, have definitely seen growth among fans. Meanwhile, data provided to SBJ/SBD by industry research group Beer Marketer’s Insights shows that approximately 41% of the beer sold in the U.S. remains American light lager. Bud Light is the No. 1 brand in the U.S. in terms of market share, with 15.4%, while Coors Light is No. 2 (7.7%) followed by Budweiser (6.2%). Kelly also noted that among gameday attendees, NHL fans consume the most beer per person while NFL consumption is greatest on a per game basis.

ART OF THE CRAFTS: A-B’s sales are being helped by the sales of beers made by some of the 10 craft breweries that they have acquired in recent years. Kelly said of A-B’s craft beers: “Venues sales rose from 2013-2017 across all leagues.” One example is Goose Island, which A-B acquired in ’11. U.S. sales of the Chicago-based craft brew are up 153% since the sale. Sales of Seattle-based Elysian Brewing’s Space Dust (‘15) have seen an even bigger lift since A-B bought that brewery in early ‘15. Both beers are being sold at sports venues nationally. Sales of beers made by Long Island-based Blue Point -- acquired by A-B in ’14 -- have also skyrocketed, partially thanks to the sales at Yankee Stadium of its Pinstripe Pilsner. Virginia-based Devil’s Backbone, acquired by A-B in ‘16, last April produced Earned Run Ale, a Nationals co-branded beer offered not just in the southwest DC ballpark, but at retail. Kelly noted sales in April were up 800% over the same month last year.

The Athletic COO Adam Hansmann said the publication will "never say never" to putting advertisements on the website. But he added that doing so is "not currently up for consideration." A spokesperson for The Athletic said that the publication is "exploring ways to diversify, including new media platforms, such as podcasts and video, and holding events." Hansmann: “We’ve built our business today on the fact that the user experience is sacred. To interrupt that experience with ads or third-party content of some kind would effectively violate the trust that we have with our customers, and we don’t have any intention of doing that.” ADWEEK's Sara Jerde noted an "annual subscription to The Athletic costs about $50," and about 90% of subscribers "renew each year" (ADWEEK, 5/14 issue).

MOVING FORWARD: In Virginia, David Teel noted the LPGA event at Kingsmill Resort is "capping a protracted search for a title sponsor," and never has that search "seemed this promising." Ticket sales for this week's event "are up," and tomorrow's pro-am is "sold out for the first time in a decade." Kingsmill VP/Golf & Sports Wayne Nooe said, “The potential of having a title sponsor is really good, because I think people will see the excitement that’s building locally. We’re pretty bullish right now that we’ve got a good thing going." A presenting sponsor "doesn’t approach relieving Kingsmill of tournament expenses" such as the $1.3M purse, which is among the LPGA’s "lowest." A title sponsor "would erase those obligations." Kingsmill COO John Hilker said of finding a title sponsor, “Once that happens, this becomes less of an investment from our perspective and the LPGA’s perspective and becomes something that actually creates dollars that we can utilize … to give back to local charities” (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 5/13).