Budweiser will launch a series of ads featuring active NBA and MLB players, after parent company AB InBev struck deals with each association’s players union.
Promoting beer using sports stars is nothing new, especially in the lite beer category. But up until now, beer brands have mainly used ex-pros and sports announcers, owing to tricky Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulations, and a reluctance by leagues to let active players endorse alcohol.
While neither the NBA nor the MLB has ever specifically forbidden active players appearing in alcohol ads, the practice was previously not favored as the TTB restricts marketing linking alcohol consumption to superior athletic performance.
As reported by AdAge, the deal to include active NBA players in ad campaigns was facilitated by a change in control of player image rights that took place last year. The development saw the Players Association gain control over any deal that uses multiple player images.
The Players Association is said to be actively seeking new, lucrative deals and the Budweiser announcement suggests they’re doing a good job.
Bud will initially run ads featuring 16 NBA players in 16 cities, but that could further expand. Speaking to AdAge, an AB InBev spokesman said that the current player deals are set to expire on Dec. 31, and they “anticipate renegotiating each of those deals, and potentially more, for 2019.”
The deal with the MLB Players Association, meanwhile, won’t come into effect until next season, though Budweiser has already run some small-scale campaigns with active baseball pros.
One thing that’s set to take longer still, is the inclusion of active NFL stars. Unlike the NBA and the MLB, the National Football League specifically prohibits active players appearing in beer ads. AB InBev is believed to be in negotiations with the NFL to get the ban lifted. For now, at least, we’ll have to settle for town criers and ex-pros during football season.