“Economic Decisions” Driving Investments in Women’s Sports

WNBA

Over the last 90 days, Barclays made the “single largest investment in British women’s sports” (a 3-year deal worth $13 million), Budweiser announced its “first-ever sponsorship of [a] women’s football” club (England’s national team) and AT&T became the 1st non-apparel company to put their logo on a WNBA uniform – evidence that “there is momentum right now around women in sport.”

Howie Long-Short: Barclays, Budweiser and AT&T are among a growing list of companies pumping dollars into women’s sports. Former WNBPA director Pam Wheeler suspects the increased interest on the brand side has to do with the increased visibility of the women’s game over the last few years (think: introduction of OTT services) – as recently as ’14 just “3.2% of all broadcast time” was dedicated to female athletics. Wheeler said “the talent level is there, so once companies start to see the skill-sets that the players have their interest in investing in them grows. It’s logical that brands want to align with elite athletes.” League exposure is about to “nearly double.” The WNBA just announced a new multi-year deal with CBS Sports that will see the cable sports network broadcast 40 regular games/season.

Brands have historically ignored female pro sports teams. In fact, GumGum found that between ’11-’13 just .04% of all sports sponsorship investments made were in women’s sports despite the barrier for entry (see: costs) being far lower. While shockingly low, the figure does make some sense – at least here in the U.S. When Wheeler first joined the WNBPA in ’98 “everybody who was aware of the league was my age or older [so, sponsors didn’t have the ability to reach the desirable 18-34 demo]. My 12-year-old daughter has never lived in a world without professional women’s basketball, so the fan demographics have become far more appealing to an advertiser.” Of course, females aren’t the only individuals who watch women’s sports; according to Nielsen, 84% of all sports fans have an interest in watching the ladies play. It does need to be noted that the number of women’s sponsorship deals has climbed +47% since ’13.

Studies have shown that girls who participate in sports are “less likely to become pregnant, have greater self-confidence and self-esteem” so there is certainly a component of these brands doing well by doing good, but while one can appreciate what female sports brings on a “social level”, Barclays, Budweiser and AT&T are in the business of generating returns for shareholders; and it’s the “big live crowds (see: attendance for female sports in U.K is +38% YoY since ‘13) and viewing figures (see: final of ’18 U.S. Open outdrew the men) [that are] feeding their [investment] interest.” Wheeler says that sponsorship pacts being signed today are being made as the result of “economic decisions, as opposed to emotional connections.” That’s an important differentiator because “in order for women’s sports to succeed, the public (think: fans, sponsors, broadcasters etc.) must recognize them as businesses that require economic support to survive.”  It’s worth mentioning that female participation in sport is at an all-time high; 3.3 million girls are playing in U.S.

Fan Marino: While investments have been made in leagues and teams, brands have yet to put big money behind female athletes in team sports. However, looking at the evolution of women’s sports it’s likely that day is not far off. Wheeler believes that within the “next few years” it would be “attainable for a female basketball player to make $1 million without having to play overseas.”

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Cost of 30-Second Super Bowl Commercials Flat Since ’17, Declining Audience to Blame

CBS

The cost of a 30-second Super Bowl spot is up +700% (adjusted for inflation) since 1967 (when it cost just $310K) and +96% over the last decade (even as primetime ad rates declined -10%), but the league’s broadcast networks have been unable to command an increase in price the last 2 years as viewership declined; SB52 had the game’s smallest audience in 9 years. CBS sold Super Bowl 53 in-game commercials (+ some digital inventory) for $5.1 – $5.3 million, the same amount that Fox and NBC asked for spots in ’17 and ’18 respectively. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of interest in advertising during television’s most watched event of the year. CBS reportedly sold upwards of 90% of its commercial inventory before the season started and is likely holding any remaining commercial time for companies looking to buy in at the last minute – at a premium price.

Howie Long-Short: With 90% of the inventory sold months before the game, the teams playing have little impact on network profitability. Sure, viewership that exceeds expectations may help CBS sell ads next season and perhaps it will give a ratings boost to network shows (due to the added exposure), but as Neal Pilson (the former President of CBS Sports) told the Washington Post, “if you promise a 25 rating and deliver a 30, it’s the advertiser who gets the great value.”

Even if the game fails to over-deliver ratings wise, one can argue that at $5.2 million/spot advertisers are already getting a bargain. If the same number of fans that watched last year’s game (103 million) watch Sunday, advertisers will pay +/- $.05/viewer; national spots in prime-time typically cost anywhere between $.08-$.10/viewer.

A-B Inbev (BUD) will be the game’s most prolific advertiser with 8 spots (5.5 total minutes) promoting 7 products and 5 brands (Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Stella and SpikedSeltzer); the company will also have billboards and bumpers during all 4 quarters, pre-game and post-game. 2 of A-B Inbev’s 8 spots will be used to promote Bud Light, but the company is also bringing back its city-wide beer promotion for fans of the winning team. Why? As Joao Chueiri (VP Consumer Connections, Anheuser Busch) explained to me, “5, 10, 15 years from now, we’re going to remember the experiences that we’ve lived, more than the advertising that we’ve viewed.” 

If that’s the case (and you won’t hear an argument here), then it’s worth asking why more brands aren’t tying experiential promotions to their SB campaigns? Michael Neuman, Founder, EVP and Managing Partner for Scout Sports and Entertainment, the in-house sports sponsorship and marketing division of Horizon Media (largest independent media agency in the world), agreed telling me that, “it’s a huge missed opportunity to pass on mobilizing a Super Bowl audience with a product experience. The Super Bowl is the time to experiment and take risks as the audience is highly engaged for the commercials. For Bud Light, it’s a brilliant marketing tactic. The winning fan base will be preordained to seek out the experience of drinking free Bud Light. The halo impact of such a creative tactic could resonate with fans enough to switch beer allegiances as winning a Super Bowl is as emotional as a sports experience you’ll find. Buffalo Wild Wings has also done a nice job with their promotion, offering a free snack sized order of wings (on 2.18 between 4-7p) if the Super Bowl goes into overtime; an equity attribute they’ve long included in their creative messaging.” 

CBS might be sold out of commercial inventory had they been permitted (by federal law) to sell national ads to marijuana companies. Acreage Holdings (OTC: ACRGF), a publicly traded cannabis company, was rebuffed in their quest to run a 60-second ad promoting the drug’s legalization. While CBS won’t approve national spots from advertisers in the marijuana (or gambling) space, Michael says it’s not unexpected for companies, from either industry, to run commercials for the first time in local markets during the game.”

I asked Michael, if marijuana and gaming companies were permitted to buy national advertising time, how would it impact the demand/cost of the spots?

Michael: Networks, leagues and teams are all awaiting the gold rush that comes with the consistent acceptance of those categories. Looking back on how the DFS category depleted premium inventories in 2015 with a combined $200 million media investment, it’s quite possible to expect tighter media inventories with greater investments required for non-upfront commitments.

Fan Marino: AB-Inbev might have exclusive category rights – which (in theory) prevents competing alcohol companies from advertising during the game – but, at least one has found a loophole; Yellowtail Wine bought local ads in 81 markets (will reach approx. 90% of total audience). Those spots will get Yellowtail in front of (most of) the audience they desire, but it’s going to cost them. Local spots go for +/- $100,000/per. If they’re buying in 81 markets, they’re spending $8.1 million; or 55% more than CBS is charging.

Fun Fact: Did you know that +/- 25% of Super Bowl viewers tune in solely for the commercials?

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Experiential Marketing: “Go Big or Go Home”

Advertising Week.jpg

New York Advertising Week kicked off on Monday October 1st (runs through Thursday 10.4) at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square. Russell Silvers (COO, AEG Global Partnerships) and Joao Chueiri (VP Consumer Connections, Anheuser Busch) were featured on a panel (hosted by JohnWallStreet) entitled “Go Big or Go Home” that explored experiential marketing trends within the world of sports sponsorships. Below is a transcription of a few of the highlights. Make sure to check out Friday’s newsletter for Joao’s insight on successful Anheuser Busch’s Dilly-Dilly and Cleveland Browns refrigerator campaigns.

JWS: Can you share you share your “high level” philosophy on sports sponsorships?

Joao: I think 5, 10, 15 years from now, we’re going to remember the experiences that we’ve lived, more than the advertising that we’ve viewed. We live in an experience economy, brands are being built by experiences. When we talk about sponsorships, events and activating the assets that we have, I believe experiential marketing is the most profound way to establish a meaningful connection with the consumer.

JWS: Why is a successful experiential marketing campaign more effective than a traditional sports sponsorship?

Russell: The fan ultimately become an ambassador for the brand and it occurs in such an organic way because the fan isn’t doing anything other than lending himself/herself to have an experience like no other. Then the fan shares their experience through social and becomes that brand ambassador when talking with their peers; a lot of people base their decisions off their friends’ opinions.

JWS: How does data help Anheuser Busch ensure fans have a positive experience while enjoying their products at a sporting event?

Joao: We’ve partnered with AEG on multiple technologies designed to enhance the consumer experience at sporting events because we’re trying to solve fan pain points when people are enjoying our product. We hear that concession lines are long, so we’ve done things like mobile ordering, in-seat delivery and have given fans the ability to preload a beer on their ticket before they got to the venue. We use consumer data to identify the things that we can create, innovation that we can pilot and then we work very closely with our partners to implement them. When we do that, we see great results not only in terms of the consumer experience but also in terms of sales for us.

JWS: If the product is the experience, do attendees expect that the activation will be a small taste of that experience? Should they always be planning on it?

Russell: I think they should now. No matter how big or small the event is, the experience must be either on par or greater than the actual event in and of itself; that’s kind of where we’re at now in the world of sports and entertainment. You’re going get some events like the Super Bowls that obviously supersedes all, but even with the Super Bowl going on the country could not help but think about the activation that Bud Light was doing (free beer for city). It’s cliché, but it’s go big or go home; that’s kind of where we’re at now.

Howie Long-Short: The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) has indicated that companies will spend $65.8 billion (+4.9% YoY, $24.2 billion spent in North America) on (mostly sports) sponsorship deals in ’18, but few are monitoring their efficacy. Research by MKTG revealed that just 19% of the 500 corporate sponsorship executives surveyed have a way to measure returns on their sponsorship investments. While surprising, 73% of those polled in MKTG’s survey said that “brand awareness”, not ROI, is the “main point of sponsorship.”

One company that is wisely measuring ROI is Anheuser Busch (BUD) and the increase in access to data has led to more efficient spending. In fact, BUD has begun using incentive-laden contracts (think: on-field performance, social media views on co-branded content, market share growth within city), as opposed to signing long-term pacts with fixed fees, for its pro sports partnerships. For the 73% of corporate execs content with brand awareness (from their sports sponsorships), I would say “those audiences can be found in less expensive ways, like through targeted digital media, which do not come with multimillion-dollar sponsorship fees”. 

Fan Marino: American Express had a memorable experiential campaign at this year’s U.S. Open, an interactive tennis gaming experience (entitled Super Rally) featuring Venus Williams. Using custom-designed 3D printed rackets, fans stood in front of life-sized transparent monitors returning virtual tennis balls in augmented reality against physical targets with the goal of collecting the most points. Here’s video of JohnWallStreet exhibiting some rare athleticism and working up a sweat playing the AR game.

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Despite Massive Corporate Spending on Sports Sponsorships, Few Companies Measure ROI

Anheuser Busch

The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) has indicated that companies will spend $65.8 billion (+4.9% YoY, $24.2 billion spent in North America) on (mostly sports) sponsorship deals in ’18, but few are monitoring their efficacy. Research by MKTG revealed that just 19% of the 500 corporate sponsorship executives surveyed have a way to measure returns on their sponsorship investments. While surprising, 73% of those polled in MKTG’s survey said that “brand awareness”, not ROI, is the “main point of sponsorship.”

Howie Long-Short: Though just 19% of sponsorship execs surveyed are quantifying ROI, 37% are monitoring the sponsorship’s impact; often with a form of digital or social media analysis. That’s wise – at least for those with jersey patch sponsorships – because according to GumGum Sports, 76% of the media value received from that kind of sponsorship comes from social media (think: photos, highlights); compared with just 24% originating from the game broadcast. Live sports are often simply too fast to catch the sponsor’s name in real-time.

One company that is wisely measuring ROI is Anheuser Busch (BUD) and the increase in access to data has led to more efficient spending. In fact, BUD has begun using incentive-laden contracts (think: on-field performance, social media views on co-branded content, market share growth within city), as opposed to signing long-term pacts with fixed fees, for its pro sports partnerships. For the 73% of corporate execs content with brand awareness (from their sports sponsorships), I would say “those audiences can be found in less expensive ways, like through targeted digital media, which do not come with multimillion-dollar sponsorship fees”.

Fan Marino: Speaking of jersey patch sponsorships, the Italian Football Federation recently (August 28th) authorized Serie A clubs to pursue sleeve sponsorship partners for their game kits; a revenue stream afforded to teams in Bundesliga, Ligue 1, La Liga and the Premier League. Curious what kind of financial upside that could mean for a Ronaldo led Juventus (JVTSF) team? Manchester United (MANU, $26 million/season), Arsenal ($13 million/season) and Chelsea ($13 million/season) command more from their sleeve partnerships deals than any other European clubs. That’s a significant number for a club that’s projected to do just $442 million in ’18 revenue. Shares are up 30% since the open on August 27th, they’ll open at $1.84 on Thursday.

The Portland Trailblazers have become the 24th NBA team to add a patch sponsor, agreeing to a multi-year deal (no financial terms disclosed) with Performance Health. The logo for their product, Biofreeze (topical pain reliever) will adorn Trailblazer game jerseys and practice apparel.

There’s been little controversy over jersey patch sponsorship agreements in the U.S., but fans of the English futbol club Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. (aka Wolves) revolted when the club decided to promote the payday loan firm – The Money Shop – (see: questionable ethics) from sleeve patch to main shirt sponsor. The team ultimately decided to terminate their relationship with the company early, not wanting to detract from the club’s ascension to the Premier League. The team has since inked a deal with the online betting firm W88, a 2-year agreement being marketed as the biggest deal in club history. Wolverhampton is owned by Fosun International, The Chinese multi-national conglomerate, which trades OTC under the symbol FOSUF, has businesses in a variety of sectors including; technology innovation and investment management.

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NASCAR Visits “Tricky Triangle”, Monster Energy and Busch Beer Activating

Pocono

JohnWallStreet is headed to Long Pond, PA this weekend for the Pocono 400 at the “Tricky Triangle”. The race is on Sunday, but Pocono Raceway is hosting a series of events throughout the weekend that NASCAR fans in the Northeast will want to be aware of. Monster Energy kicks things off today with “Free Can Friday”, a promotion offering fans who bring an empty of Monster Energy (MNST) drink (to recycle) free access to the day’s activities. These include a BMX trick show and the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 (ARCA Series race). On Saturday, the track hosts an Alex Bowman selfie session and the Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons (Xfinity Series race), before the Cup Series takes over on Sunday. That race starts at 2pm, but make sure to get there early; Clint Bowyar (10:45a), Jimmie Johnson (11:00a) and Kurt Busch (11:15a) are all doing Q&As at the Tricky Triangle Club (opens at 8a).

Howie Long-Short: Pocono Raceway, which has been family-owned since its inception in 1971, is one of just two NASCAR tracks (out of 25) that is privately-owned; Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the other. International Speedway Corporation (ISCA) and Speedway Motorsports (TRK) own a combined 22 tracks (13 and 9, respectively), while Dover Motorsports (DVD) owns the “Monster Mile”.

In early April, ISCA reported “revenue and earnings increased for comparable events” in Q1 ’18, despite a continued decline at the gate (admissions revenue -2.5% YoY). Shares are down 11.5% (to $41.70) since February 1.

In late April, TRK reported that a YoY decline in admissions revenue for Q1 events led to a -2.5% decline in total revenue (to $74.4 million). Shares have declined 6% since (to $16.70) despite the company touting the prospects of long-term future profitability from Q3 event realignment.

DVD didn’t hold any events in Q1 ’18, so there was little to report during its most recent earnings statement. The stock is currently trading at $2.10 – exactly where it was 12 months ago.

Fan Marino: For those passionate about their brand of domestic beer, Busch and Busch Light (BUD) are set to go head-to-head on the track Sunday. Kevin Harvick will be driving his #4 Busch Beer Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing, as he seeks his circuit leading sixth win of the season. Harvick’s SHR teammate and friend Clint Bowyar, winner of the ’18 STP 500 at Martinsville, will be behind the wheel of the #14 Busch Light Ford Fusion. They’ll compete with the loser “scheduled” (weather pending) to cut the infield grass at Pocono. Off the track, the two will battle it out throughout the weekend on social media and will appear on stage together on Friday at Pocono’s Infield Block Party.

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Devils, Prudential Center CRO Discusses Importance of Playoff Hockey to Team, Building Profitability

NJD vs. TBL Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 Game 4 (photo by Patrick Dodson)

The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is among the marquee sporting arenas in the world (ranked #8th – Billboard Magazine). During the 1st intermission at Wednesday night’s Game 4, JohnWallStreet had a chance to discuss the advantage/drawbacks of the arena’s proximity to NYC and the importance of playoff hockey for the team and the building’s profitability with Adam Davis, CRO of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center (properties within the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment portfolio, which also includes the Philadelphia 76ers, Team Dignitas esports franchise and more).

JWS: Since the Nets moved to Brooklyn, the Devils placed an added emphasis on being “New Jersey’s team.” How has that mentality impacted corporate sponsorships?  

Adam: When Josh Harris and David Blitzer bought the team in August of 2013, we looked at it through the lens of this (Prudential Center) being the “Home of the Devils”; we wanted to transition it, to becoming the “Home of Entertainment for New Jersey.” That is also the filter we looked at partnerships through. When we got here we had a lot of great partners, but not ones that were necessarily representative of New Jersey. Fast forward to today and all the brands are representative of Jersey in some way. It could be a global brand like Anheuser Busch who happens to have a brewery in Newark N.J., a brand like Mars chocolates who is headquartered in Hackettstown, N.J. (moving to Newark in 2 years) or a partner like Investors Bank; the largest bank headquartered in New Jersey. Plymouth Rock Insurance, a huge auto insurance company in New Jersey. RWJ Barnabas Health, the largest healthcare system in the state of New Jersey. WaWa, a big convenience store; are all partners. Then, global brands that have a big presence in the state. Enterprise, this is the biggest market for them. Infinity, New Jersey is arguably the number 1 or 2 market in the country for them. So, everything we look at goes through that filter of New Jersey.  

JWS: Is it an advantage to be located so close to NYC or does having MSG and Barclays Center in such close proximity hurt Prudential Center business?

Adam: Both. When I got here, the Prudential Center was trying to be positioned as New York City. As opposed to being the last option in New York, our perspective was “why not be the first option in New Jersey”. That mentality has helped to enhance the content. When we got here, this building was 17th in the country (Billboard Magazine) for entertainment venues. Today we are number 6 in the country, 8th in the world. We’ll do 45 concerts this year. We do more concerts than Devils games, it’s amazing.

JWS: How important is hosting playoff games to the building’s profitability? Team profitability?

Adam: There is no debate that post season play brings an unparalleled energy to the arena, the team and the city of Newark. Obviously, playoff games generate additional ticket sales, partnerships, premium, merchandise, food & beverage; people spend more on food & beverage and merchandise because everyone is really excited, really happy and wants to represent their team. But this has truly been a banner year for the arena. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary, installed the largest in-arena scoreboard in the world with partner Trans-Lux, opened the GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center and welcomed over 150,000 patrons through our doors each month. The playoffs generate momentum for Season Ticket Members in the 2018-2019 season, but outside of Devils game, we still anticipate over one million concert and special event attendees in the coming year.

Howie Long-Short: Several Devils’ corporate sponsors are publicly traded. Anheuser Busch (BUD), Investors Bank (ISBC) and Infinity (a subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co., OTC: NSANY).

In late January, ISBC reported a net loss of $4.8 million for Q4 ’17; resulting mainly from a $49.2 million increase to the company’s annual income tax expenditure (see: Tax Cuts & Jobs Act). Adjusted, net income totaled $48.2 million; +5% from Q3 ’17. CEO Kevin Cummings pointed to “net interest margin expansion (+3.5% YoY), expense control, strong deposit growth (+$481 million in Q4) and asset quality metrics” as highlights for a “strong fourth quarter.” Despite 2017’s large tax bill, the reduced corporate tax rate will be beneficial to shareholders moving forward. The company will report Q1 ’18 earnings on April 26.

Fan Marino: The Prudential Center proudly owns the world’s largest, in-arena, center hung, digital scoreboard. The screen (9,584 sf) is 86% larger than the next largest scoreboard (5,138 sf, Red Wings) in the league, has over 8 million more LEDs than the scoreboard at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys) and is big enough to fit 2 Madison Square Garden scoreboards inside. Remarkably, players on the screen appear to be 4x larger than they are. You can check it out, here!

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Anheuser Busch Brings “Performance Based Model” to Sports Sponsorships

Anheuser Busch

Anheuser Busch (BUD) has introduced an incentive laden sponsorship model, for both teams and leagues, that rewards performance on and off the field (think: playoff appearances, rising attendance, growing TV ratings and increased social awareness). The template for A-B’s new deals include base compensation and a series of metrics (team/league specific) that if met, would trigger a larger investment from the company. VP of Consumer Connections Joao Chueiri said, as “leaders in the industry” it was the company’s responsibility to revamp “legacy (sponsorship) models that were created on consumer behavior that is no longer there.” It is believed that Anheuser Busch is the first “major sponsor” within the sports world to implement a performance based model.

Howie Long-Short: AB Inbev announced on March 1st its best FY earnings report in 3 years, reporting profitability growth within its 2 biggest markets (+1.9% in U.S. and +1.7% Brazil), FY17 revenue grew +9.8% YoY and EPS increased 42.8% YoY to $4.04. Should the board approve a proposed dividend on April 25th, the total dividend for FY17 would be $4.44. It should be noted that for the 5 year period beginning in ’12, BUD’s revenue CAGR of 4.6% exceeds that of all PMCG peers. For reference purposes, BUD closed at $107.79 on 4/2.

Fan Marino: BUD has league sponsorship deals in place with the NFL, NBA and MLB, and maintains dozens of individual team partnerships but, the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Timberwolves and NASCAR, are the first 4 sports rights holders to work with A-B under the new performance-based model. Expect the off-field portion of these deals to cause problems at some point. If Papa John’s had this type of clause in their contract with the NFL during the 2017 season, one must believe they would have invoked their right to withhold financial “rewards”; a decision that would have pressured the league to restrict players’ rights to protest. Had that occurred, it’s not unreasonable to think that some players would have refused to take the field.

Fun Fact: BUD spent $350 million on sports sponsorships in 2016. Only PepsiCo (PEP) spent more ($360 million).

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England’s National Team Replaces Long-Time Official Beer Sponsor

Budweiser

Budweiser (BUD) has announced that it will replace Carlsberg (CABGY) as the official beer of the England senior men’s soccer team following the ’18 Russia World Cup, ending CABGY’s 22-year relationship with The Three Lions. The AB Inbev subsidiary will also become the official pour (includes premium brands) of Wembley Stadium connected by EE. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but, it’s being marketed as the largest official beer partnership in the Football Association’s history (154 years). BUD also stated it would be extending its partnership with The Emirates FA Cup (a domestic knockout competition) and said that it will continue to heavily invest ($1.8 million since ’12) in local grassroots football initiatives.

Howie Long-Short: AB Inbev announced on March 1st its best FY earnings report in 3 years; FY17 EPS increased 42.8% YOY to $4.04. Should the board approve a proposed dividend on April 25th, the total dividend for FY17 would be $4.44. For reference purposes, BUD closed at $110.63/share on 5/3. As a brand, Budweiser grew global revenue 4.1% YOY in 2017. It’s popularity in the U.K. (+16 YOY in ’16) helped the company achieve double-digit top-line growth in that market. It must be noted that for the 5 year period beginning in ’12, BUD’s revenue CAGR of 4.6% exceeds that of all PMCG peers.

Fan Marino: BUD’s first World Cup as an official sponsor of the England senior men’s soccer team will come in 2022, scheduled to be played in Qatar. While the tournament is certain to occur in 4 years, it’s no longer guaranteed the games will be played in the middle east; certainly, not if Saudi Arabia sports minister Turki Al Shiekh has his way. Al Shiekh believes Qatar bought votes during the selection process in 2010. If those suspicions are proven correct, Shiekh would like the competition moved to either England or the U.S; either location would work for BUD drinkers.

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500 to the 500, Kevin Harvick and Daniel Blake (Busch Beer) on the Unique Promotion

2018_Daytona_Logo

Busch Beer ran an impactful 500 to the 500 promotion, bringing 500 fans to Sunday’s running of The Great American Race; the 2018 Daytona 500. The lucky winners received flights, hotel and airfare, as well as a chance to meet and take a photo with Kevin Harvick. JohnWallStreet was in Daytona Beach and got a chance to speak with both Kevin Harvick and Daniel Blake (Busch Beer’s Brand Manager) about the promotion just hours before the race.

JWS: You agreed to travel from Daytona Beach to Orlando (50+ miles, then back), the night before the biggest race of the season to meet your fans. Why did you agree to do that?

Kevin: I would say this unique because it is such a big promotion and Busch put so much into it; it was also planned way in advance. It’s an opportunity to have more interaction with the fans than you would walking through the garage or at the racetrack, because you are in competition mode. As long as I can manage my time and know what I’m getting into, I’m good with it. I’m also in Daytona Beach by myself, my family doesn’t come in until tomorrow; and I like to do stuff to take my mind off things, anyways.

JWS: You mentioned that if a sponsor is willing to put the time and effort into a promotion of this size, it’s certainly worth your while to participate; regardless of how close it is to the race. How does it benefit you?    

Kevin: The biggest pop of the season, from a marketing and exposure standpoint, is going to come in the first 6 weeks. The majority of your souvenir sales, unless you win the championship, happen in the first 2 weeks. You can follow the TV ratings and everything that happens within the sport. The bigger you make this week, the bigger the next 5 weeks are.   

JWS: Busch Beer had a Super Bowl ad in 2017. In 2018, you re-allocated those funds (1/3 of the marketing budget) to do this event. Why did you make that decision?

Blake: The timing. NASCAR’s biggest event of the year is at the start of the season and we wanted our biggest promotion to be at the start of the season as well. There’s no better way to do that than sending 500 fans to the Daytona 500, for one of the most memorable experiences of their life. It’s not just a once in a lifetime racing experience, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some of these fans to get out of their hometowns, to see Florida, to get on a plane and to meet new people with a common interest.

JWS: How do you gauge the success (or lack thereof) of a campaign like this?

Blake: Social buzz and impressions, volume sales and shares are another; but, for something like this it’s more intangible. It’s difficult to measure sending 500 fans on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but those are the type of things that resonate and hopefully compound. They (the winners) tell their friends and family about the brand and the great experience they had here.

Howie Long-Short: Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) reported its value brand portfolio, led by the Busch brand family, performed well in both Q2 and Q3 ’17. Busch has a loyal consumer base and its brands require minimal investment; positive news for a company that has watched Budweiser fall out of the Top 3 in U.S. sales (Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite are the Top 3, Budweiser is 4th).

Fan Marino: Fans that pulled checkered cans from packages of Busch and Busch Light, were then asked to submit videos expressing their enthusiasm for both the brand and their interest in attending the Daytona 500. Christina Pin was among the 250 winners (each got to bring a guest) and brought her husband to the race. I asked Christina to describe the video that got her selected and her reaction when she found out she had won.

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NASCAR’s Kevin Harvick Discusses the Daytona 500 and the Success of “Bloomin’ Mondays”

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February 10, 2018: Kevin Harvick during practice at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fl. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

The 60th annual edition of the Daytona 500, will be run on Sunday. JohnWallStreet will be in attendance, along with the 500 fans that Busch beer (BUD) is bringing to the event; providing coverage all weekend long (follow us on Twitter @HowieLongShort). Before we head down to Daytona, we got a chance to catch up with Kevin Harvick; who finished 3rd in 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings. In Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1 of interview), Kevin discusses his sponsors for the 2018 season, the significance of this particular race and the success of “Bloomin’ Mondays”.

JWS: The Daytona 500 is the biggest event on the NASCAR calendar. For those that are not NASCAR fans, can you try to explain why that is and the significance of the race?

Kevin: Well, it goes back to when they raced on the beach. This is the birth place of our sport. Bill France had a dream to build a really big racetrack and came and built the Daytona Speedway. There is no other race that matches the hype and there is no other race that matches that magnitude of winning the Harley J. Earl Trophy; putting your name on the list of Daytona 500 winners. It’s hard to explain the magnitude of it, until you experience winning the race. The celebration is different, you celebrate like you won a championship, because, basically you have. Winning the Daytona 500 can make a whole year. 

JWS: If you must pick one, do you want to win the Daytona 500 or the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship?

Kevin: I want to win them both (laughing) but, I will tell you this, in 2007 when we won the Daytona 500, we did not have a great year; but, nobody remembers anything about that year except for, that is the year that I beat Mark Martin in the Daytona 500. It’s just that big. You have more sponsors show up, more celebrities show up, more fans show up, the TV ratings are higher, the radio ratings are higher, the exposure is greater and there isn’t anything about it that isn’t bigger.

JWS: Do you have any new sponsors in place for the 2018 season?

Kevin: Everything is pretty much the same. Jimmy John’s is on board again, Busch (BUD) is the other primary; along with Mobile One (XOM). Outback (BLMN) is activating heavily with their “Bloomin’ Mondays” (editor note: only program every Outback franchisee participates in) and they’re seeing a $10,000-$12,000 increase (in revenue, per store), pretty much every time we get a Top 10 finish.

Howie Long-Short: International Speedway Corporation (ISCA) spent $400 million on Daytona International Speedway renovations, for annual incremental EBITDA of just $15 million. That’s not an ideal ROI.

Fan Marino: Do you have a “most memorable” Daytona 500 experience, as a fan?

Kevin: I went there in 1995 for the first time and was in the grandstand going into turn one, watching the qualifying races. I grew up in Bakersfield, CA. I had never been to a racetrack of that size, let alone to the Daytona 500; so, to sit there and watch those cars go around the racetrack and to see all the cars you see on TV, it was eye opening. (note: Sterling Marlin won the 1995 Daytona 500.)

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