Anheuser-Busch has announced a partnership with UFC, as the embattled beer company attempts to fight back following the Dylan Mulvaney backlash.
Bud Light has now become the official beer sponsor for the UFC with a six-year marketing partnership, the companies announced.
A source familiar with the deal told CNBC that the sponsorship deal is ‘well into nine figures’, and is the largest in the mixed martial arts promotion’s history.
With this deal, the brewer reestablishes ties with an organization that is perceived to be more conservative than many other sports after a tumultuous year.
In April, the company partnered alongside transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, a move that proved to be cataclysmic for the brand.
Dana White, pictured here, hosts the UFC 294 press conference at Etihad Arena on October 19, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Mulvaney worked with Bud Light in April as part of their March Madness campaign and was gifted a can of the light beer with her face on it – which sparked outrage
Mulvaney shared images of herself with a personalized can celebrating one year since she transitioned as well as posed with cans of the beer in a bathtub.
The brand where accused of meddling in one of the most hot-button culture war issues there is.
The partnership upset conservative drinkers who were quick to boycott the brand but also enraged liberals who said the company failed to respond in solidarity with Mulvaney.
Following the disastrous partnership with Mulvaney, the former top-selling beer has been surpassed by the likes of Modelo and Coors. The current Modelo deal is believed to be worth eight figures.
Recent data from last month showed that Bud Light had an 8.9 percent share of the beer market, down from 12 percent immediately before the partnership.
Sales have declined by around 30 percent in both volume and dollar value compared to the same period last year.
In the week after the campaign launched, April 1, Bud Light dollar sales dipped 6 percent, as Coors Light rose 3.5 percent and Miller Lite 3.1 percent.
Several famous faces slammed the brand for the move, including Kid Rock who fired a machine gun at the cans of beer, saying: ‘F*** Bud Light, and f*** Anheuser-Busch.’
The brand was accused of meddling in one of the most hot-button culture war issues there is. Magomed Ankalaev, left, battles with Johnny Walker in a light heavyweight on October 21
Following the move, the former top-selling beer has been surpassed by the likes of Modelo and Coors. Khamzat Chimaev, top, battles Kamaru Usman in Abu Dhabi on October 21
In the turmoil that ensued after the announcement of the collaboration, Anheuser-Busch issued a statement saying it supported the brand’s decision to work with Mulvaney.
Anheuser-Busch’s CEO Michael Doukaris also tried to play down the campaign with Mulvaney.
Doukeris said: ‘We need to clarify the facts that this was one camp, one influencer, one post and not a campaign.’
Beer Business Daily publisher Harry Schuhmacher told Fox last month that Bud Light’s fallen sales signals ‘quasi-permanent’ damage to the brand and that longtime consumers ‘are just lost forever.’
In a poll over the summer, YouGov found that the beer had fallen out of the list of the country’s top ten favorite beers.
While the proportion of Americans who ‘liked’ Bud Light hadn’t changed, the popularity of other rival beers surged, pushing it into 15th place.
They found that Guinness, Corona and Heineken were the three most liked beers of 2023, with approval from 58 percent, 53 percent and 51 percent of Americans, respectively.
UFC President DanaWhite donated at least $1 million to a political action committee that supported former President Trump’s 2020 Presidential Campaign.
In July of this year, former President Trump revved up the crowds in Las Vegas as he attended UFC 290 alongside White.
Former President Donald Trump and UFC President Dana White attend the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
In a new YouGov poll, which asked 1,468 people, the public approval of the beer slumped so much it fell out of the top ten and into 15th place
During the summer, the company also launched a new ad campaign aimed at returning Bud Light to the ‘beer of easy enjoyment’.
‘Crack a cold one: we’ve got an epic summer ahead. Sock tans included,’ the company wrote on Twitter – the first tweet since April 14, which was just weeks after the Mulvaney blowup.
The advertisement shows customers using beer cans to cool off in the summer heat as they quickly pull a cooler full of Bud Light behind them.
The company announced the campaign on their social media following the backlash from the Mulvaney partnership
In a statement announcing the partnership, UFC CEO Dana White said: ‘Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were UFC’s original beer sponsors more than fifteen years ago. I’m proud to announce we are back in business together.
‘There are many reasons why I chose to go with Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, most importantly because I feel we are very aligned when it comes to our core values and what the UFC brand stands for.
‘I’m looking forward to all of the incredible things we will do in the years ahead.’
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said: ‘Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light have always been on the cutting edge of iconic sporting moments that fans remember forever, and reuniting with UFC is a continuation of this industry leading legacy.’