North American basketball’s NBA has agreed a new sponsorship deal with Michelob Ultra, the US beer brand owned by international brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. Under a multi-year agreement, the brand will become the official beer partner of the NBA.
Michelob is replacing another AB InBev beer brand in Budweiser, whose deal with the league, which was worth around $22.5 million per year, recently expired. Budweiser had been the NBA’s beer partner since 2011.
Michelob is tipping off its partnership with the league during the resumption of the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Florida by launching ‘Michelob Ultra Courtside’, a digital experience that allows fans to appear virtually inside the basketball arena at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. In addition, Michelob will release a new television advert featuring All-Star Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat.
Ed Winkle, NBA vice-president of global partnerships, said the collaboration with Michelob in Orlando “will offer a unique opportunity to reach and engage NBA fans in an entirely new way.”
This is the NBA’s second major commercial partnership during the Covid-19 period after signing a long-term deal with technology giant Microsoft in April. The NBA season will resume on 30 July following a four-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Combining athleticism with enjoyment is what defines Michelob ULTRA, and that’s why we are incredibly honored to partner with the NBA and celebrate this historic return of basketball,” said Ricardo Marques, Vice President of Michelob ULTRA. “Michelob ULTRA Courtside is a truly groundbreaking virtual fan experience that will not only bring the energy of the fans to the game, but also bring the athletes closer to the fans.”
While fans can’t physically attend games in Orlando due to social distancing protocols, “Michelob ULTRA Courtside” will give fans special access to games throughout the season. Starting Thursday, July 30, fans can visit www.ultracourtside.com and follow Michelob ULTRA’s social channels for details on how to win access as well as additional exclusive giveaways and experiences. The NBA will announce more details about the virtual fan experience in the coming days.
“As we prepare for the NBA Restart in Orlando, we are thrilled to expand our longstanding partnership with Anheuser-Busch and welcome Michelob ULTRA as an official partner of the league,” said Ed Winkle, NBA Vice President, Global Partnerships. “Our collaboration in Orlando will offer a unique opportunity to reach and engage NBA fans in an entirely new way.”
In the television spot debuting Friday, July 24, Butler is seen at home excitedly packing for the NBA Restart in Orlando. He joyfully gathers his belongings while singing and dancing his heart out to the classic song “You Make My Dream (Come True)” by Hall & Oates. This will be the first of several pieces of creative work that Michelob ULTRA will release during the NBA Restart.
“While singing in ULTRA’s new commercial was fun and showed a more joyful side of me, I must admit that I’m excited to bring that same spirit back to my day job,” said Butler. “I look forward to returning to the court and am elated for the opportunity to virtually reconnect with NBA fans. It is their energy that brings the excitement to the game and makes it all worthwhile.”
The 2019-20 NBA season resumes Thursday, July 30. For the complete game and national television schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV, visit NBA.com.