Budweiser is no longer the beer of Team USA after Anheuser Busch InBev pulled the plug on its 32-year sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team — ending a relationship that began with the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
In a statement, Elco van der Noll, VP of experiential marketing for AB InBev, said: “We continually evaluate our sponsorships as our business priorities evolve and we’re adjusting our portfolio to reflect those priorities. We’re proud of our long-term partnership with the USOC and all that we have accomplished together on behalf of America’s athletes.”
Ad Age cites a former executive for AB InBev saying the Olympic sponsorship is not a good fit for the company.
“The former AB InBev executive said ‘you can only support so much and you’ve got to prioritize.'” Ad Age reports. “This person noted that the brewer had not really been activating its USOC deal in a huge way. In 2014, for instance, AB InBev declined to buy TV advertising during the Sochi games, drawing complaints from NBC executives.”
With the Summer Games in Rio out of the way and the next three Olympics — two Winter Games and one Summer Games — all taking place in Asia, the Olympics appear to be heading into a shaky period for sponsorships.
Ad Age’s source noted that the Winter Olympics do not fall in a “key consumption period” for beer, and added that the Olympics come soon after the Super Bowl, where AB InBev traditionally spends heavily.
The report adds: “While the Summer Games align better with the summer drinking season, they are not a great fit for beer brands because viewership skews older and more female, the former executive said. Beer brands tend to target young adult males, although some brands have made a concerted effort lately to reach females.”