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Volume 22 No. 49
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Dos Equis brews up most interesting 3-on-3 hoops tournament

Dos Equis has the most interesting man in the world, and now it has one of the most interesting college basketball events.


The Heineken beer brand has agreed to title sponsor the first-of-its-kind 3-on-3 national championship for college players. The three-day event will be played over Final Four weekend in San Antonio on the campus of St. Mary’s University and will be called the Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship.


Chicago-based agency Intersport owns and operates the 3-on-3 championship, and also sold the title sponsorship to Dos Equis.


Like Intersport’s more established collegiate events, the slam dunk and 3-point contests, the 3-on-3 is not affiliated with the NCAA, even though it’s played on the same weekend and in the same city as the Final Four.


Intersport will use college players whose eligibility recently has expired, which means they can accept prize money and travel costs without NCAA penalty. The 3-on-3 will pay out $104,000, including $50,000 to the winning team.


The competition will feature 32 teams — one representing each Division I conference.


“Even though it’s college basketball, it’s a completely different and interesting event, and that makes it a great fit for the brand,” said Quinn Kilbury, senior brand director for Dos Equis. “We try to do things in an interesting way and there’s nothing that talks to the college basketball fan the way that this will.”


Dos Equis 3X3U National Championship

■ When: March 30-April 1
■ Where: St. Mary's University, San Antonio
■ Broadcast: Pool play, quarterfinals on Twitter; semifinals on ESPN2
■ Format: 3-on-3; 10-minute games; eight pools of four teams
■ Teams: 32, one representing each of the Division I conferences
■ Players: Four per team will be selected by a media panel
■ Prize money: $104,000 total purse; $50,000 to winners plus $1,000 to each game winner


The agency announced in August the formation of the 3X3U National Championship and since has worked on selling the title sponsorship and finding a broadcast partner.


Twitter will stream the games in the pool play and quarterfinals; ESPN2 will be the linear TV broadcast home for the semifinals and best-of-3 championship.


“We’ve traditionally gone to linear TV, as it relates to our properties,” said Drew Russell, Intersport’s vice president of sports properties and a 10-year veteran at the agency. “But with this event, having 48 pool play games and each one lasts 10 minutes, we just felt like people, like me, who are strapped to Twitter all day, that this would be the right fit.”


Dos Equis emerged in recent months as the title sponsor and will receive a significant media presence on the broadcasts, as well as branding within the event logo and around the court.


Financial terms were not released, by the brand or Intersport, but industry sources pegged the title sponsorship in the low seven figures for this year’s event. Dos Equis’ sponsorship fee will go toward covering the prize money and travel for the 128 players, and operational costs associated with running the competition and marketing the event.


The unique nature of the 3-on-3 event was part of the attraction for the beer brand that once featured the most interesting man kicking a field goal between two giraffes.


“We were really looking for a basketball platform, and being the most interesting brand in the world, this made a lot of sense,” Kilbury said.


Dos Equis signed a one-year deal to cover the inaugural 3-on-3 championship, but both sides say they’re already discussing how to do more with it in 2019 and beyond.


The beer brand and Intersport have a relationship that goes back more than two years. Intersport has consulted with Dos Equis on both of its sponsorship agreements with Major League Soccer and the College Football Playoff.


The CFP arrangement is negotiated with ESPN, the playoff’s rights holder, and the 3-on-3 will provide Dos Equis with “a bookend to the college year,” Kilbury said, stretching from football through the end of the basketball season.


“Dos Equis has historically been strong and sold a lot of beer to college alumni and college bases, especially in the Southwest and Southeast,” he said. “College basketball is just a great way to extend that engagement with those fan bases.”