In a strategic move to regain its foothold in the sports marketing arena, Bud Light is set to reprise its role as the official beer of the UFC in the United States starting January 1st. Under a new multiyear marketing agreement, Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, will become the “Official Beer Partner” of the UFC in the U.S. While the financial details of the deal were not disclosed, it is reported to be the UFC’s largest-ever sponsorship agreement, surpassing a previous $175 million deal signed with Crypto.com in 2021.
Global Partnership with AB InBev
Beyond U.S. borders, AB InBev, the parent company of Anheuser-Busch, will serve as the UFC’s official global partner. This partnership marks a reunion, as Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were the UFC’s original beer sponsors over 15 years ago. UFC CEO Dana White emphasized the alignment of core values shared by UFC, Anheuser-Busch, and Bud Light in their renewed collaboration.
Controversy and Backlash
However, the return of Bud Light to the UFC stage comes on the heels of controversy. The brand faced a conservative backlash following its promotional collaboration with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Critics vowed to boycott Bud Light after the company sent a commemorative can to Mulvaney earlier this year. This move led to protests from Mulvaney’s supporters and LGBTQ rights groups, who argued that the brand did not do enough to support her.
Challenges and Recovery
As a result of the backlash, Bud Light saw a decline in sales, losing its long-standing position as America’s best-selling beer in June. This decline coincided with a 10.5% fall in U.S. revenue for Anheuser-Busch InBev in the second quarter of the year. However, the company’s overall revenue rose by 7.2% to $15.1 billion, thanks to the success of global brands like Stella Artois and Corona, which offset the losses in Bud Light sales.
Despite the challenges and controversies, Bud Light’s return to the UFC signifies the brand’s determination to regain its position in the market and reaffirms its commitment to the sports and LGBTQ communities.