Beer and football go together like, well, beer and football. Why, then, do we never see active National Football League (NFL) players in beer advertisements?
You might be thinking: But wait! Tony Romo, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, is the spokesperson for Corona. Miller Lite achieved light beer fame in the 1970s with ads featuring Super Bowl champ Matt Snell. And there was that one time Peyton Manning gave Budweiser a $3 million endorsement after the Super Bowl.
All technicalities. Romo is retired, and so was Snell. As for Manning, well, Budweiser didn’t technically pay him to endorse its beer that day — but his enthusiasm may have had something to do with his part-ownership of two Anheuser-Busch distributors.
Bud Light is the NFL’s official beer sponsor, meaning ABI is the only beer company that can (and does) run television ads during games, release NFL team-specific beer cans, and unleash free beer onto fans when a team wins. The reason we don’t see active NFL players in Bud Light ads is actually contractual: The NFL prohibits players from promoting alcohol while they are active players.
However, this likely won’t be the case for long. ABI announced this week that it will launch a series of Budweiser ads featuring active NBA and MLB players, after striking deals with those organizations to lift advertising bans.
This is hardly the first time ABI has skirted the rules to profit off of the NFL fanbase. In 2015, the brewer negotiated the rights to use actual game footage within its ads, with players — as long as you couldn’t see their faces. After the Cleveland Browns emerged victorious against the Jets on Thursday night, refrigerators full of free Bud Light were unleashed upon Browns fans. Promptly after the game, Baker Mayfield, who had just finished his first game, asked on-air on the NFL Network whether the Bud Light fridges had been opened. An announcer called the promotion the greatest of all time.
Budweiser has long made team-specific cans; according to an interview reported in WARC, team cans are the biggest ROI for Bud Light.
And then there’s the “Dilly, Dilly” bit. In addition to the commercials during games, Budweiser weaves its medieval-themed, interesting beverage-bashing rhetoric into broadcasts. During a pre-game announcers were calling two key players “Bud Light knights,” a reference to the ads.
Active football players may not be official spokesmen for now, but they’re still wearing mouthpieces.