Anheuser-Busch InBev has struck a deal for its non-alcoholic Corona Cero brand to be the global beer sponsor of the Olympic Games through to 2028.
The deal, agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the world Olympic Games governing body, will cover the next three editions of the event – Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 (LA28), and the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympic Games.
AB InBev will be a worldwide Olympic partner, part of the TOP (The Olympic Partners) partner programme, which is the highest level of Olympic sponsorship. The agreement, signed for an undisclosed sum, represents the IOC’s first TOP partnership with an alcohol brand.
While Corona Cero will lead the sponsorship globally, in the US, AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra light beer brand will also sponsor the Los Angeles Olympics and Paralympics events.
Michelob Ultra’s primary position in the US is because Constellation Brands holds the rights to import and sell Corona Stateside.
AB InBev chief marketing officer Marcel Marcondes said: “As we continue to invest to grow the category, we are excited to bring our beer brands to the Olympics and be a worldwide partner for these amazing events.
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“Corona is one of our fastest-growing global brands, reaching consumers across 180 countries, and through this partnership, we expect Corona Cero to accelerate no-alcohol beer growth.”
The world’s beer multinationals all generate the bulk of their sales through conventional brews but most of the majors are looking to grow sales of non-alcoholic alternatives. In 2022, AB InBev announced it expected 20% of Budweiser’s sales to be alcohol-free by 2025.
Through the IOC’s partnership with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the AB InBev partnership will also include marketing rights for IPC events through 2028.
Jiri Kejval, the IOC’s revenues and commercial partnerships commission chair, said: “AB InBev manages some of the world’s most recognised brands. The company will be a natural addition to the TOP program, which brings together some of the world’s leading companies with a shared vision of supporting sport to build a better world.”
The Olympic Games has never globally partnered with a beer brand, mainly due to internal rules against the promotion of brands seen as unhealthy. This has led the partnership to be globally centered around Corona Cero, which is non-alcoholic, and locally centered in the US around Michelob Ultra, which is low-calorie.
At the launch of the partnership, AB InBev chief executive Michel Doukeris said the deal centres on Corona as it is the brand with “the highest reach”.
He stated: “Corona is the most global brand that we have in the company, and this is a global partnership. Corona today is available in over 180 countries worldwide and therefore it only makes sense for us to go with the brand that has the highest reach globally.”
The announcement coincided with the news that Michelob Ultra will be the exclusive sponsor of the US Olympic Team team through to 2028.