Supplier Spotlights: Anheuser-Busch, Heineken & Hershey

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Supplier Spotlights: Anheuser-Busch, Heineken & Hershey


NATIONAL REPORT — While it's important for convenience store retailers to market themselves, new products, services, promotions and other initiatives by c-store suppliers are a major part of capturing consumer interest. Convenience Store News will regularly highlight such efforts in this roundup.

Here are the latest supplier spotlights:


Bud Light and longtime partner Google are teaming up to market unique, premium content directly to football fans via the new Full Season Football program, featuring content from the NFL and other properties on Google Search and YouTube. Also the Official Beer Sponsor of the NFL, Bud Light is the first brand to sign, and on Sept. 10, the world's most popular beer, sports leagues and video platform partnered to capture football fans on the coveted second screen.

Whether football fans search for recaps or the latest stats on Google, the results of NFL-related searches displayed official NFL videos, including pre-roll ads from sponsors like Bud Light, as well as related news, scores and broadcast times. All content was delivered to the user in one distinct box at the top of Google search results and through the NFL's channel on YouTube.

"We're constantly challenging ourselves — as well as our business partners — on how to activate around sports in new, energetic and innovative ways," stated Lucas Herscovici, vice president of consumer connections at Anheuser-Busch. "The 21- to 27-year-old fan is key for us, and they are following the sport in a totally different way than a decade or two decades ago. Interactivity drives their passion; they want to feel connected to the game through more than just the TV screen. They're checking stats online, talking with friends on social and competing in fantasy. The Google Football program gives us the opportunity to intersect with fans before, during and after the game, providing them the custom content, data and multi-screen viewing experience they're looking for."

Bud Light plans to create — and work with its 28 sponsored NFL teams to generate — a series of short promotional pieces to run at the beginning of NFL YouTube videos. The brand's content will be rotated, refreshed and added to throughout the season.

"We're thrilled to partner with Bud Light on the new program we've built for this year's football season," said Tim Katz, Google's head of sports partnerships, North America. "Fanship doesn't stop when the game is over, so we're excited to bring viewers even more great content on YouTube that they can tune into before, during and after the game."

Anheuser-Busch also replaced The Coca-Cola Co. as the most active sponsor of music tours, venues and festivals, reported IEG LLC. Twenty-nine percent of properties with a partner in the alcoholic beverage category report a partnership with an Anheuser-Busch brand.

At the same time, non-alcoholic beverages replaced beer as the most active sponsor category. Beer is now No. 3.

Music sponsorship spending is expected to reach $1.4 billion in 2015, a 4.8 percent increase from 2014.

"Music festivals continue to pop out of the woodwork, and many are drawing interest from national brands looking for an uncluttered marketing environment," said William Chips, senior editor of the IEG Sponsorship Report.

Boston Beer Co.

The Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Competition returns for a fifth year in October at participating bars and restaurants across the United States and at larger Oktoberfest gatherings, such as the annual America's Oktoberfest in Cincinnati. Competitors will hoist a one-liter glass stein filled with Samuel Adams OctoberFest, with a straight arm, for as long as possible without sipping, spilling or bending their arms.

"We started our national Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Competition to pay homage to the more than 200-year-old German Oktoberfest celebration, which itself is the inspiration for our award-winning and highly sought after OctoberFest beer," stated Jim Koch, Samuel Adams founder and brewer. "We're thrilled to offer craft beer lovers our 2015 batch of OctoberFest and to celebrate our Stein Hoisting Competition's fifth anniversary in a big way."

This year marks the first time that craft beer lovers across the country will have the opportunity to witness the final round of the competition via ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." On Oct. 13, the late-night show will host the first-ever national Stein Hoisting Competition finals, where two winners — one male and one female — will each receive a Grand Prize trip for two to the 2016 Oktoberfest celebration in Munich.

Local stein hoisting events can be found here.

The Coca-Cola Co.

Coke Zero will bring its first-of-its-kind drinkable marketing campaign to the football field, giving fans the chance to sample the zero-calorie Coke Zero through multiple avenues. The fully integrated, drinkable "You Don't Know Zero 'Til You've Tried It" campaign will use multiple broadcast spots, traditional media, digital, out-of-home, retail, social media engagement and ESPN's popular pre-game "College GameDay Built by The Home Depot" show.

To kick off its third year in partnership with "College GameDay," Coke Zero is returning to college football with Section Zero. At each campus the show visits, Section Zero will treat 50 fans to premium seating and a chance to see the newest cast member of "College GameDay," Rece Davis. Students can gain access to Section Zero by showing their school spirit on game day and participating in a few classic tailgate games on campus.

"Coke Zero fuels the most passionate college fans throughout the season, allowing them to enjoy the ritual of watching ESPN College GameDay on television or — if they're lucky — in person," said Racquel Mason, vice president, Coca-Cola & Coca-Cola Zero. "Section Zero was created to offer the pinnacle viewing experience, and by posting social content from this premium section, we can show fans at home that Section Zero truly has the best seats in the house at ESPN College GameDay."

Coke Zero's 23,000-pound, 26-by-36 foot drinkable billboard will appear at a few ESPN "College GameDay" campuses. After running through a giant contour bottle and 4,500 feet of straw tubing that spells out "Taste It," ice-cold Coke Zero is dispensed through a free sampling station to thirsty fans.

The campaign also includes three 30-second TV spots during which viewers can open the Shazam app on their mobile devices to redeem a mobile coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle of Coke Zero at participating retail locations.

Goetze's Candy

The iconic brand image of Caramel Creams is featured in the Baltimore in a Box Emoji app, launched in August.

"We are excited that our fans will now be able to text, tweet and email our candy image around the world," stated John Leipold, director of sales and marketing for Goetze's Candy Co. "We are proud to have been making this iconic brand for over 120 year in a city that we love and are proud to be featured as one of the items that consumers can add to their Baltimore in a Box."

The Caramel Creams emoji, along with 60 other images that represent the spirit of Baltimore, can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for free.

Heineken USA

Through a new partnership with experiential marketing platform Gratafy, Heineken USA will give complimentary beers to consumers ages 21 and over in key markets nationwide via Facebook and Twitter. The campaign will connect fans in social settings through social media in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston by offering a free Heineken, Heineken Light or Dos Equis at Gratafy-partnered restaurants and bars through November.

Once the offer is activated, or following a brief survey for their time in Los Angeles and San Francisco, consumers provide their digital Gratafy code when settling the bill to receive their draft or bottle. This marks the largest social sampling program ever held via Facebook, as well as the first time a brand has partnered to sample beer via Twitter, according to Heineken.

"Heineken has always put a premium on reaching customers in innovative ways, and we're truly excited about this partnership," said Ron Amram, senior media director, Heineken USA. "Facebook and Twitter are areas where our customers frequent the most, and through Gratafy, we're connecting with them in arguably their most social setting, to offer a complimentary Heineken, Heineken Light, or Dos Equis."

The Hershey Co.

The Reese's Peanut Butter Cups brand is teaming up with ESPN's "College GameDay Built by the Home Depot" hosts Rece Davis and Kirk Herbstreit to serve as brand ambassadors for Reese's for the 2015-2016 college football seasons.

The partnership will feature Davis and Herbstreit in a variety of creative television, video and social content for Reese's, along with with consumer-facing and retail initiatives such as in-store displays and point of sale. Every Saturday, the hosts will highlight the greatest college football traditions as part of Reese's "GameDay Greatness" video features, which will air on both ESPN and

Throughout the season, Reese's will host the "Team Up for the Win" promotion that encourages fans to share a picture on social media, using the hashtags #TeamREESES and #ContestEntry, that depicts how their friends and family enjoy game day. Davis and Herbstreit will spotlight some of the most die-hard college football fans and help Reese's select a grand prize winner to receive the trip of a lifetime for the ultimate "College GameDay" experience.

"We're ecstatic to work with Rece, Kirk and ESPN," said Mary-Ann Somers, vice president/general manager, U.S. confections, The Hershey Co. "Just like the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter, Rece and Kirk are the perfect combination to host our GameDay Greatness celebrations. We can't wait to kick off the season and we are confident that Reese's and football fans nationwide will enjoy everything that we have planned."

On Sept. 19, Reese's delivered even more excitement to "College GameDay" fans through an on-site activation that provides fans with exclusive access to Davis and Herbstreit, along with a variety of interactive games and experiences, according to the company.

"Reese's is all about great combinations, and they showed that by joining with ESPN to help usher in a new era with the College Football Playoff," said Rob Temple, senior vice president, ESPN Sports Management. "Combining Rece and Kirk in year two, and our franchise College GameDay show, will certainly expand their impact on college football and deepen their relationship with fans."

More information on the Reese's brand and its college football programming is available at

Hunt Brothers Pizza

The nation's largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry is continuing its international expansion. Hunt Brothers Pizza opened its fifth German location at the Pulaski Express on Vogelweh Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern in early September.

Hunt Brothers also opened four other German locations earlier in 2015:

  • Clay Kasern Troop Store at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden 
  • Ramstein 24-Hour Express at Ramstein Air Base 
  • Grafenwoehr Express at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr 
  • Grafenwoehr Rose Barracks Express at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria

"We've grown a loyal fan base in the U.S., and we are proud to bring Hunt Brothers Pizza overseas to offer this taste of home to our servicemen and women, their families and other supporting civilians," said Bryan Meng, chief operating officer of Hunt Brothers Pizza. "We appreciate the sacrifice these men and women make to defend our freedom, and we are honored to serve them through the simple act of providing a wholesome, delicious and affordable product like Hunt Brothers Pizza."

All five German Hunt Brothers locations are located within an Army & Air Force Exchange Service retailer.

Johnsonville Sausage

On Sept. 13, Johnsonville Sausage grilled what may unofficially be the longest brat in the United States to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Delaware North Sportservice, which manages the general concessions, restaurants and catering operations at Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.

Heath Barbato, Executive Chef at Delaware North Sportservice, and Johnsonville's team of food scientists collaborated to create the giant sausage. Made with the Johnsonville Original Brat recipe, it weighed 225 pounds and was 367 feet long, running the length of the football field, including both end zones. It produced approximately 750 servings from its 36 sections, each 10 feet long.

"Delaware North has been a great partner for us," said Todd Pogorzelski, executive vice president, Johnsonville Sausage. "It was only natural for us to step in and help them ring in their 100th anniversary with this epic creation."

MillerCoors LLC

In partnership with local public transit companies, Miller Lite Free Rides will provided transportation to fans in Atlanta; Chicago; Cincinnati; Green Bay, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Philadelphia this fall. Since its launch 28 years ago, the Free Rides program has provided safe rides to more than 4.8 million people in 20 cities across the country.

"We're teaming up with our professional football and stadium alliances across the country to remind fans that the best game time moments are those enjoyed responsibly," said Miller Lite Director Cris Rivera. "For our fans, game time means Miller Time and thanks to Miller Lite Free Rides and the support of our local distributor and public transit partners, they can leave the driving to us."

During the 2014-2015 season, Miller Lite partnered with local distributors and transit companies, as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons, to provide more than 73,000 fans with safe, free rides on select game days. The program is part of MillerCoors' overall commitment to helping ensure beer drinkers have a great time by enjoying its products responsibly, the company said.

"At MillerCoors, we're committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment and marketing of beer," said Kim Marotta, MillerCoors director of sustainability. "Miller Lite Free Rides is our flagship responsibility program, and we're excited to provide even more fans with a safe ride so they can have a great time on game day."

More details and route information are available at

Pro Food Systems Inc.

The parent company of Champs Chicken and Cooper's Express has selected Ascentium Capital as its national preferred financing resource.

"Our No. 1 goal is to assist our customers in operating profitable locations. To ensure success, we are offering the best financing options available that enable retailers to acquire all the proper equipment," stated Trevor Monnig, chief financial officer at Pro Food Systems (PFS). "This undertaking was not taken lightly. After vetting several companies, we chose Ascentium Capital as our primary finance partner. Ascentium has proven they can provide high levels of service and they have been very flexible in meeting our business needs. We are confident in this partnership and the benefits Ascentium is able to provide our retailers."

Ascentium's finance solutions will assist PFS and its client network to drive growth by enabling retail locations to acquire the right foodservice equipment that maximizes return on investment and optimizes space and operational efficiencies, according to the company. The customized finance program will be available to the entire PFS client network throughout the United States.