For the first time in 60 years, sports stars are able to appear in a commercial for beer, thanks to a new marketing agreement between Anheuser-Busch InBev and the players unions of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.
National sports leagues have become more welcoming of alcohol advertising opportunities in recent years, reports The Motley Fool. In 2009, the NBA began allowing spirits to be advertised on TV, and the National Football League followed suit earlier this year.
The move by Anheuser-Busch is surely aimed at making the brand’s beverages more appealing to Millennials, notes Patrick Rishe on Forbes.com.
“Brands like ABI desperately want to connect with the Millennial audience,” he says. “Millennials embrace socially shared experiences, and having a beer with friends is among the most time-honored, socially shared experiences. Athletes’ usage and proficiency in mastering their own social media domains and personas are ever-improving.”
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As The Motley Fool reports, while players will be able to appear in commercials, they won’t be seen holding or drinking a cold brew. Still, the beer biz could use the athletic star power to help turn the tide on declining sales. Despite global beer revenues rising nearly five percent last quarter, U.S. sales to wholesalers are down 4.8 percent, with sales to retailers dipping 3.2 percent.
Brands both big and small have been getting creative to boost awareness and consumption of their brews. Massachusetts-based craft beer maker Lord Hobo Brewing recently began dedicated B2B marketing initiatives, to increase the profile of its beers with distributors, retailers, bartenders and restaurant owners.
“Most craft beer brands are entirely focused on the consumer,” says James Furbush, B2B marketing manager at Lord Hobo. “My primary role is to keep distributors in the know, and provide material that they need to sell our beer.”