The King of Beers’ next move is to become the King of Soccer.
Budweiser has long been one of the most prominent brands in sports sponsorship, with deals with leagues like the NBA, the NFL and MLB to team-level deals across the entire industry. It even recently tried to trademark phrases related to esports, like “the official beer of gaming.”
Now, the beer brand has signed multi-year deals with both the English Premier League and LaLiga, as Budweiser sees the sport of soccer as a gateway into key markets for its growth.
A global partner with FIFA for the men’s World Cup dating back to 1985, Budweiser has made inroads into the sport in the past, ranging from deals with English soccer governing body The FA to U.S. Soccer to recently signing deals with the NWSL and with the Women’s International Champions Cup tournament. Budweiser was previously a partner of the Premier League and MLS, prior to being replaced by rival brands Carlsberg and Heineken in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
While signing on with both leagues will certainly provide further visibility in England and Spain, the real key for Budweiser in these new deals will be the global platform that the Premier League and LaLiga offer as arguably the top two soccer leagues in the world, in terms of quality, star power and relevance.
“As we look to further internationalize our brand, connecting with these super premium properties that give us unprecedented access to a global audience in the countries that matter to us is key,” said Steve Arkley, vice president of global marketing at Budweiser. “Both the Premier League and LaLiga have global platforms that reach millions of people, and we think this gives us access to their diverse geographical footprint.”
That means in markets like China, Chile, India, Nigeria and South Africa, to name a few. In total, these deals allow Budweiser to activate against the leagues in more than 20 countries across five continents.
Arkley said that will come to life through things like in-store advertising and packaging, viewing parties and other special events in the different countries. There are also plans to roll out a larger digital and social content strategy against the start of the 2019-2020 seasons for both leagues.
The first activation around these league rights will be a new marketing campaign titled “Be A King.” In it, Budweiser will look “to inspire fans around the world by bringing them closer to the kings of the game,” celebrating both the greatness of the players on the pitch and their cultural impact off it, Arkley said.
Arkley said that the combination of these two league alongside its FIFA partnership will “let us speak to the planet on an annual basis – we know the interest in soccer is growing across the entire globe, and especially in the emerging world – it’s an amazing opportunity to get in at this level.”
Some of that impact is also being made in the world of women’s soccer, between the brand’s deals with both the NWSL and the English Women’s National Team, known as the Lionesses. Arkley said that while the NWSL partnership was coordinated by the company’s U.S. team, he sees it as another sign of the diversification of the sport.
“In a world where ultimately sport is diversifying, soccer is diversifying and the importance of the female game is growing, we want to position ourselves as a supporter of both the men’s and women’s side of the game,” he said.
However, that likely won’t come via additional league or club-level deals. Arkley said Budweiser’s focus is now to “drive depth with the two leagues we have and how we can drive impact from that,” he said. He said there are no active plans around club level deals at the moment.
Budweiser does not comment on the financial details of its deals’ nd Arkley declined to provide any further context for the two new deals. However, he said both are “significant properties for our global brand, and we’re backing them appropriately to drive impact.”
“This is a sport that is growing and is energized internationally on a scale that is different than any other sport – we’re excited to be a part of that,” he said.