Bud Light locks up with UFC for multiyear deal

Bud Light locks up with UFC for multiyear deal

Dive Brief:

  • Anheuser-Busch and mixed martial arts organization UFC announced a new multiyear marketing partnership, according to a press release. The brewer will become the exclusive Official Beer Partner of UFC effective Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Globally, parent company AB InBev will be UFC’s official beer partner and will be integrated into UFC assets including live events, broadcast features, in-arena promotion and original content through UFC’s digital and social channels. 
  • Bud Light will receive prominent branding inside the UFC’s signature Octagon structure and will have its brand and campaigns integrated into all U.S. UFC pay-per-view events. The move comes as Bud Light continues to deal with fallout from a controversial collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Dive Insight:

Bud Light’s partnership with UFC is a major move from AB InBev as the brewer attempts to rebound after a backlash caused by an April collaboration with trans TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney knocked the beer off its throne as the best-selling beer in America for the first time in over two decades. Modelo Especial, owned in the U.S. by Constellation Brands, took that title this summer.

On the UFC front, Bud Light will now replace Modelo, which had taken over as the UFC’s beer sponsor from Bud Light as part of a six-year partnership. AB InBev competitor Molson Coors has also benefited from Bud Light’s struggles and planned to increase marketing spend by $100 million in the second half of 2023. For its part, Bud Light and AB InBev have tried to move on from the controversy through a series of new campaigns.

“As leaders of our category, we are focused on new opportunities to connect with consumers in new occasions. UFC has become an undeniable force in the sports industry, and that’s why we’re so excited to partner with them and continue to amplify this sport around the world. We will be creating new and exciting brand experiences for UFC fans,” said Marcel Marcondes, global CMO for AB InBev, in a statement.

AB InBev and Bud Light will have a deep integration with UFC assets as part of the partnership, giving the brewer brand visibility in front of the organization’s 700 million fans in 170 countries and the estimated 900 million TV households that receive UFC broadcasts. Bud Light will be in the Octagon and will see its “Easy to Enjoy” and “Easy to Celebrate” campaigns highlighted during UFC PPVs. 

UFC and Bud Light will collaborate on original content for UFC’s digital and social channels, which reach more than 243 million users worldwide, per the release. Plus, Budweiser and select local AB InBev brands will activate the sponsorship across events and marketing in international markets.

The partnership will be UFC’s biggest-ever sponsorship, exceeding its $175 million deal with Crypto.com, sources told Ad Age. Anheuser-Busch this year reunited with the NFL’s Washington Commanders after the team was sold following a series of controversies.

UFC parent Endeavor this year merged the organization with the WWE to create a new, $21 billion company, TKO, that could prove to be a major player in the advertising and streaming worlds.

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