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Anheuser-Busch Eyes Official NFL Beer Sponsorship

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. is negotiating with the National Football League to take the "official beer sponsor" title away from rival Coors Brewing, according to a recent report in USA Today. The National Football League launched a bidding war for the multi-year sponsorship deal, reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Golden, Colo.-based Coors has a five-year, $300 million contract signed in 2002 as the league's beer sponsor, which gives it the right to use the NFL shield, playoff and Super Bowl logos in ads and promotional efforts. Coors, a division of Toronto-based Molson Coors Brewing Co. reportedly also is negotiating to renew the contract.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser for the Super Bowl. Its Budweiser and Bud Light brands sponsor 28 of the 32 NFL teams. In fact, Budweiser and Bud Light recently kicked off the 2005 football season with custom team-specific packaging in local NFL team markets. All 12 Anheuser-Busch domestic breweries will be involved in the team specific packaging campaign, which will produce more than 78 different packaging combinations on 12 million cases of Budweiser and Bud Light aluminum cans. Team-specific packaging launched this past week in time for the key Labor Day selling period.

“Our investment in team-specific packaging demonstrates our commitment to the dedicated fans and teams of the National Football League,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president, global media and sports marketing for Anheuser-Busch. “Football fans are passionate about and loyal to their favorite team. Our custom packaging with individual team logos helps us tap into the excitement of the upcoming football season and reinforce to the fans our support of their team.”

The Bud brand family also will increase its broadcast commitments to include at minimum two ads in every NFL game broadcast this season, plus alcohol beverage category exclusivity on the Super Bowl broadcast for the 18th consecutive season. Additionally, the 2005 football promotion includes Bud Light tailgate parties, “Budweiser Fan Zones” and co-branded “Tail Gators.”

“Professional football is an important element in our overall marketing mix, and we will work to enhance our relationship with the teams, fans and networks throughout the season,” said Ponturo. “We have stepped up our activation around football in 2005 to create excitement during fan-centered activities and to strengthen our position as the preferred beer among football fans.”

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