The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the world Olympic Games governing body, has announced a multi-year partnership with global drinks conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).
The deal will see AB InBev, through its alcohol-free Corona Cero l brand, partner with the Olympic Games through to 2028. This partnership will cover the next three editions of the event – Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 (LA28), and the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympic Games.
AB InBev will be a worldwide Olympic partner, part of the TOP (The Olympic Partners) partner program, which is the highest level of Olympic sponsorship. This represents the IOC's first TOP partnership with an alcohol brand.
Further to Corona Cero leading the partnership globally, in the US, AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra light beer brand will support the Los Angeles event through the tie-up.
AB InBev chief marketing officer Marcel Marcondes has stated: “As we continue to invest to grow the category, we are excited to bring our beer brands to the Olympics and be a Worldwide Partner for these amazing events.
He continued: “Corona is one of our fastest-growing global brands, reaching consumers across 180 countries, and through this partnership, we expect Corona Cero to accelerate no-alcohol beer growth.”
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Through the IOC’s partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the AB InBev partnership will also include marketing rights for IPC events through 2028.
Jiri Kejval, the IOC's revenues and commercial partnerships commission chair, said: “AB InBev manages some of the world’s most recognized brands. The company will be a natural addition to the TOP program, which brings together some of the world’s leading companies with a shared vision of supporting sport to build a better world.”
The Olympic Games has never globally partnered with a beer brand, mainly due to internal rules against the promotion of unhealthy brands. This has led the partnership to be globally centered around Corona Cero, which is non-alcoholic, and locally centered in the US around Michelob Ultra, which is low-calorie.
Michelob Ultra’s primary position in the US is because in the US, the rights to import and sell Corona are held by Constellation Brands, not AB InBev, therefore disqualifying InBev from promoting the beer in the country.
Despite misgivings about this, AB InBev chief executive Michel Doukeris explained at the launch of the partnership that the main global thrust will center on Corona as it is the brand with “the highest reach.”
He stated: “Corona is the most global brand that we have in the company, and this is a global partnership. Corona today is available in over 180 countries worldwide and therefore it only makes sense for us to go with the brand that has the highest reach globally.”
The announcement coincided with the reveal that AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra brand is partnering with the US Olympic Team, also through to 2028.
The light beer will be the exclusive beer sponsor of the team through to 2028, where it will also partner the games as a whole.