Anheuser-Busch, Browns Unlock A Winning Sponsorship Opportunity


The only thing arguably better than beer is free beer. That is exactly what Anheuser-Busch (AB) and the Cleveland Browns have announced with their most recent sponsorship activation. Starting yesterday, Anheuser-Busch is “placing eight-foot ‘Victory’ fridges filled with Bud Light bottles into 10 Cleveland-area bars that purchased them. When the clock strikes zero on the Browns' first win the electromagnet that keeps the fridges locked will be turned off through a WiFi connection, opening all of them for fans to enjoy free of charge.”

Anheuser-Busch likely understands that many of its customers are NFL fans. It is one reason that Bud Light is currently the official sponsor of 28 out of 32 NFL teams and of the NFL itself. In addition, B6A has highlighted in previous posts that being an exclusive sponsor of sports rights holders can increase revenue particularly for large events such as the Super Bowl.

However, category exclusivity should not be the only way that companies generate value through these partnerships. What brands are looking for is to find unique ways to activate sponsorships that drive customer engagement and increase brand perception. More traditional activations may have more difficulty in driving interest to core customers in the ways they are looking to consume content.   

That is exactly what this activation between AB and the Browns (who are a B6A Client) accomplished with the Victory fridges. The only team that would have the opportunity to have this type of partnership is unfortunately the Browns (because the team did not win a game last season and only won one the season before). Therefore, there is real interest about when the Victory fridges will actually open. The only beer company that could take advantage of this situation is AB because the company is the official sponsor of the team.

B6A is already seeing the results of this activation through Twitter results from our Social Sentiment Analysis Platform (SAP) since Tuesday. A sample is provided below with B6A’s value calculations factor in both sentiment and engagement on a per post basis into the final results. This includes:

  • Earned media - Darren Rovell has multiple tweets that have generated $18,672.34 of value with 1,540,927 impressions.
  • Owned and Operated
    • Bud Light – Multiple tweets that have generated $1,235.77 of value with 101,982 impressions. 
    • Browns – One tweet that has generated $4,601.47 of value with 379,734 impressions.

Even with the initial positive results, this was not an easy decision for either side of this partnership. AB has very publicly stated that the company wants to incentivize its partners based on their on-field, on-court, on-ice, etc. performance given that winning leads to higher sales and consumer engagement. Even though it expects to perform much better this year than in the previous two years, the Browns do not want to emphasize how they struggled in the past. The Victory fridges seem to do the exact opposite of what both AB and Browns would want to highlight.

Yet, this decision is the right one for both sides of this partnership. AB shows that it will work with the team to determine new ways to activate that help the company achieve its goals even when the team’s on-field performance is struggling. The Browns show how the team can leverage losing to create new activations while also taking advantage of winning when the team does perform better. Bringing beer to fans enables both the team and its partner to celebrate victory even before the Browns win a game.