Anheuser-Busch InBev Strikes Deal to Make Bon & Viv the ‘Official Hard Seltzer of the NFL’

Call it a scoop. Call it a shill. Either way, Adam Schefter made news today about the relationship between the NFL and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Schefter, the ESPN NFL insider known for breaking the league’s biggest scoops via his Twitter account — including last weekend’s retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck — announced this morning that Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Bon & Viv is now the “Official Hard Seltzer Sponsor of the NFL.”

Schefter “broke the news” as part of a video advertisement posted to his account Wednesday morning in which he is shown hooked up to a lie detector and answering questions about his job. The reporter then picks up his smartphone and reveals the sponsorship, which A-B called “a first for Bon & Viv and the category.”

“As a sponsor of the NFL, fans will be able to enjoy Bon & Viv in 16 oz. cans in stadiums across the country,” A-B said in a statement. “The brand will also show up via dedicated TV spend in NFL games and on NFL.com and Twitter.”

A-B has a long-standing, billion-dollar relationship with the NFL. The company’s Bud Light brand is already the league’s official beer sponsor, and A-B spends millions annually on ad space during the Super Bowl that gives it exclusive alcohol category advertising rights during the game.

During Super Bowl LIII this past February, the company invested in a Bon & Viv ad during the big game — a first for a hard seltzer.

Capturing the official hard seltzer sponsorship of pro football is A-B’s latest move to advance in a hard seltzer category that is estimated to reach $1 billion by the end of the year, according to market research firm Nielsen.

Although the category was created by Nick Shields, who founded Bon & Viv’s previous incarnation, SpikedSeltzer, before selling its parent company to A-B three years ago, the brand has remained a distant third to top-selling brands White Claw and Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer. Those two brands alone account for about 85 percent of hard seltzer dollar sales year-to-date, Nielsen reported.

Nevertheless, off-premise dollar sales of Bon & Viv’s variety pack — its top-selling offering — are up 81.5% through August 11 in multi-outlet and convenience stores tracked by market research firm IRI.

The Bon & Viv deal follows a smaller deal made earlier this month by Kentucky craft brewery Braxton Brewing Company to make its VIVE Hard Seltzer brand the “official hard seltzer” of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bon & Viv sponsorship wasn’t A-B’s only NFL news of the day. The world’s largest beer company has also brought back the Bud Light branded Cleveland Browns “Victory Fridges,” which unlocked and dispensed free Bud Lights after the team won its first game of the 2018 season.

For the 2019 NFL season, A-B will open the “B.L. & Browns Appliance Superstore,” a two-day (September 3-4), pop-up, Browns-themed appliance store selling replica Victory Fridges for $199.99 to $599.99 in downtown Cleveland.

WWE pro wrestler and avowed Browns superfan The Miz is featured in an “infomercial” for the fridges with the resurrected Bud Knight.

Meanwhile, Heineken USA is sticking to the collegiate game. HUSA has launched its own football-themed advertising campaign for its Dos Equis brand, the “Official Beer Sponsor of the College Football Playoff,” with the launch of a series of commercials for the “Dos Equis College Football Football College” featuring former NFL players Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett, along with ESPN host Katie Nolan. The ads show the former players and Nolan teaching classes at the “totally-real-not-at-all-made-up college.”

Dos Equis drinkers can take free online courses to earn a certificate, culminating in a final exam on December 20 for a chance to win tickets to the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.

Finally, MillerCoors announced on its Coors Light brand is now the official beer sponsor of ESPN’s “College Gameday” program, according to the company’s blog.

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