Special to NYSportsJournalism.com
October 14, 2014: Thanks to Heineken, Major League Soccer will no longer be drinking beer with its long-time Bud.
Heineken has unveiled what it called a "landmark, long-term partnership agreement" to become the official beer of MLS, beginning January 2015..
Financial terms of the five-year deal were not shared. Industry analysts put the figure at upward of $40 million.
Heineken replaces Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, which had been a partner with the league since 1995.
Among other motivations to sign the deal, Heineken said that U.S. soccer fans are 50% more likely to sample imports than fans in other sports.
"Soccer has been an invaluable platform for the Heineken brand for years, with our position as sponsor of the UEFA Champions League and other top soccer properties around the world," Nuno Teles, Heineken CMO, said in a statement. "Fans in the U.S. and across the globe appreciate the opportunity to enjoy first-class soccer with the highest quality premium beer.
Among other activations, Heineken will be the presenting sponsor of MLS Rivalry Week; will have multi-media marketing, including "strong visibility during nationally broadcast matches"; on-site, digital and POP materials.
The new deal coincides with MLS' 20th anniversary in 2015, which will see the league use a new-look crest, and add two expansion clubs and new media partners.
According to Heineken, "The partnership further establishes Heineken's standing as a worldwide leader in the sport and gives the brand an additional springboard to challenge Americans to chase new experiences and open their world."
"With this partnership, we look forward to continuing a lengthy tradition of creating unique experiences for fans everywhere and drive participation and engagement in the sport in a way that has never been done before in the U.S.," said Teles.