- Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev inked a deal with the NBA that expands the pair’s 25-year relationship and elevates Michelob Ultra, according to a press release.
- Under the new terms, Michelob Ultra becomes the official beer partner of the NBA, the WNBA, NBA G League, NBA 2K League, USA Basketball and Basketball Africa League. The brand will expand its marketing rights globally, increase its courtside presence and expand its visibility across the WNBA.
- The news see AB InBev continue to shuffle its sports marketing strategy and sees it shine a spotlight on Michelob Ultra as the NBA’s first-ever global beer partner.
AB InBev is ramping up its sports marketing strategy by deepening its relationship with the NBA. The alcohol giant’s decision to put Michelob Ultra front and center is also telling, as the conglomerate looks to associate the brew with sports following two months of sales declines for its other light beer, Bud Light, in the wake of controversy.
The news signals the NBA as an important part of the AB InBev’s diversifying sports portfolio. As part of the deal, Michelob Ultra will become the NBA’s first-ever global beer partner. This will allow the brew to expand its marketing with the NBA globally, which was previously limited to the U.S., Canada and Brazil. Michelob Ultra will also serve as presenting partner for select NBA Global Games, as well as mark the beginning of its partnership with the Basketball Africa League starting in 2024.
One of the first out of the game is an ad starring Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat, which is airing during the 2023 NBA Finals on ABC.
The NBA has enjoyed healthy viewership rate over the past few years. While viewership for the 2022-2023 season remained flat, pulling in 1.6 million viewers for regular season match-ups, it was significantly higher than it was two seasons ago, at 1.35 million views. The league has benefited from shrinking TV audiences, with its share of U.S. audiences up 11% from last season, making it an attractive opportunity for brands trying to reach TV audiences.
The focus on Michelob Ultra sees AB InBev continuing to shuffle its sports marketing strategy. The alcohol giant made waves last year when it announced it would no longer hold a monopoly on alcohol advertising during the Super Bowl, a privilege it held for over thirty years.