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SBJ On the Rise of Rugby in the US

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In the scrum: A-B sponsors Rugby World Cup Sevens

Anheuser-Busch InBev has signed on as a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament in San Francisco this summer.

The sponsorship, for ABI’s flagship Budweiser brand, is the first with a large American consumer brand for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, being held in North America for the first time, July 20-22 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Not coincidentally, it’s A-B’s first rugby sponsorship.

“We’re looking at it as a test, from both a global and domestic perspective,” said Nick Kelly, head of U.S. sports marketing for ABI. “We’re wondering if it’s an appropriate global marketing platform. We’d like to determine what the crowd will look like, what the opportunity to activate is, what kind of demand there will be, and what the appetite will be like in the market both on premise and at retail.

“Certainly, we expect it to be a big deal in the San Francisco market, with the opportunity to drive sales. We want to find out how meaningful it can be beyond that. If it is, we’ll scale it out globally.”

The deal includes some on-site inventory and IP rights. NBCUniversal will televise the tournament.

Other sponsors include AIG, Australian winemaker Blass, DHL, HSBC and UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

With Rugby Sevens a Summer Olympic sport as of 2016, global interest has been growing. Generally, when a sports marketer as big as ABI buys into a developing property, it’s been considered a Good Housekeeping seal of sorts.

“I see rugby as being on the upswing in America,” said MKTG Principal David Grant, whose agency represents AIG, another tourney sponsor. “But I could look at it two ways: A-B is such a power in sponsorship, whatever they do must be legit. Or, someone might say A-B can afford to take a flier on some things.”

source: SportsBusiness Journal

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Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

March 28th, 2018 at 2:17 pm