Anheuser-Busch and UFC form partnership amid Bud Light doldrums

Bud Light, manufactured by Anheuser-Busch, sits on a store shelf in Miami on July 27, 2023.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Bud Light will once again become the official beer sponsor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship with a six-year marketing partnership, the companies announced Tuesday.

The sponsorship deal is worth “well into nine figures” and is the largest in the history of the mixed martial arts promotion, a source familiar with the deal told CNBC on Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, Bud Light will receive exclusive and prominent branding at UFC fights and events as well as in-arena advertising. Additionally, the brewer will collaborate on original content for the UFC’s digital and social channels.

The deal takes effect on January 1st.

The agreement follows a conservative boycott of Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light that began this spring when the brand partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The backlash led to a decline in beer sales in the following weeks. At the height of the backlash, Modelo Especial dethroned Bud Light as the best-selling beer in the United States

The deal restores Anheuser-Busch’s ties to an organization that is considered to have a more conservative political leaning than many other U.S. sports leagues. UFC CEO Dana White donated at least $1 million to a political action committee that supported Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, and the ex-president appeared at a UFC event in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Anheuser-Busch’s relationship with the UFC dates back to 2008. In 2017, the mixed martial arts company acquired fast-growing Modelo as its official beer sponsor.

Bud Light will now replace Modelo, which is distributed by Constellation marks.

“Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light have always been at the forefront of iconic sports moments that fans remember forever, and reuniting with UFC is a continuation of that industry-leading legacy,” Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement .

The UFC, which is owned by the newly formed TKO Group Holdings Inc., reaches an audience of more than 700 million fans, according to the companies. The partnership brings Bud Light to an estimated 900 million television homes in more than 170 countries.

“Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were the original beer sponsors of the UFC more than fifteen years ago. “I am proud to announce that we are back in business together,” said White said.

“There are many reasons why I chose Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, primarily because I feel we are very similar in terms of our core values ​​and what the UFC brand stands for,” added he added.

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