CHICAGO: Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brewer, is taking a more flexible approach to leveraging paid media in connection with its sponsorship programs.

Nick Kelly, AB InBev’s head/US sports marketing, discussed this topic during a session at the 2018 IEG Sponsorship conference.

“There is an inherent value with paid media … It’s built into the deal because we want the team or the league associated with us as an official partner,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: AB InBev reveals its formula for sports marketing ROI.)

But, with a changing media ecosystem, brands like Budweiser – which might have three-or four-year partnership agreements in place – need to build more flexibility into their sponsorship programs.

Why? Because halfway through a contract, a franchise may announce, “‘We’re so excited about this new Twitter deal or that new Facebook deal.’ But I’m stuck with a $4m [contract] in broadcast? I can’t do anything with it,” said Kelly.

The result of this malleability in the media ecosystem for AB InBev? “We have started to work media out of all of our [long-term] deals,” Kelly said.

And the prospects of “this new Twitter deal” or “that new Facebook deal” demand a greater moment-to-moment flexibility that multi-year agreements simply can’t provide.

This does not mean AB InBev is missing out on media exposure, as it might, say, buy national media at a cheaper rate than the local media offered by a property. “We’ll still get that media. We still want to be associated [with the team],” Kelly said.

“The last thing we want do is leave a window of opportunity for [a competitor] to come in and feel like the official [partner] of that team I value so much.”

With a sponsorship remit that covers media, packaging, trade promotions, in-stadium activities, experiential programs and hospitality efforts, AB InBev requires a truly holistic approach to this discipline.

“We’re trying not to silo them,” Kelly said. “Across the board, they should all touch. Every sponsorship tries to cram in media and every event tries to cram in sponsorship.”

The consequences of a successful combination: Earned media and attention-driven engagement. Said Kelly, “These are things that we do that disrupt the traditional sponsorship media-event model.”

Sourced from WARC