The UFC will start a new, multi-year sponsorship deal with Mexican import brand Modelo Especial as the new official beer of the UFC. Modelo will replace Bud Light who was the first major sponsorship agreement for the UFC nine years ago.
UFC COO Lawrence Epstein said this about the partnership with Bud Light:
“When Bud signed on to be our sponsor, it sent a significant message that UFC was a real player in the sports landscape… It gave us a tremendous amount of credibility with other sponsors. And not just sponsors. Television networks and venues and, frankly, anybody involved in the business of sports entertainment around the world.”
Modelo will take over the sponsorship opportunities that Bud Light had in all US events. The brand already has sponsorships with the Chicago White Sox and the Golden State Warriors.
Modelo CMO Jim Sabia has said that the brand is going to focus on sponsorship activation as it aims to also attract a broader audience. Sabia said:
“That’s what we’re really excited about with Modelo, the way they’re going to activate around our brand… Activation is something that will be different, frankly, more robust than we’ve seen in the past.”
The UFC’s deal with Modelo is only for the United States, which signals that the UFC is thinking on a much more global level than before. This US exclusive deal with Modelo allows the UFC to negotiate other beer and alcohol sponsorship agreements with brands in other countries. For example, Carlsberg could sponsor London shows and Smirnoff could possibly sponsor events in Russia.
The new agreement with Modelo also allows for the UFC to make sponsorship agreements with hard alcohol brands. The agreement with Bud Light covered all alcoholic brands while the new agreement with Modelo is beer specific.
Mexican import brands have had success with sponsoring combat sports in the US. Tecate invested heavily in boxing events and programing, which turned out to be one of the best marketing opportunities they could have made. One of the largest demographics of boxing fans are Hispanic, so the sponsorship was a great overlap in target demographics.
[h/t ABC News]