Esports Drinks Up With Anheuser-Busch

12 Jul 2019

Esports Drinks Up With Anheuser-Busch

Esports is no stranger to beverage sponsors. Over the past few years, well known brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Red Bull have all gotten involved in a variety of esports partnerships. So far, however, alcoholic beverages have not been commonplace, largely due to concerns over underaged audiences for popular esports games. That is starting to change with Anheuser-Busch stepping in to declare itself “The Official Beer of Esports”.

The 165-year-old brewing company has recently filed trademarks for phrases such as “The Official Beer of Gamers” and “The Official Beer of Gaming”. In doing this, Anheuser-Busch is seeking “to leverage the fractured nature of [esports] to try to own it for the company”, according to their head of U.S. Marketing, Nick Kelly. Kelly says, “It’s not like the NFL; I could never be the official beer of the NFL without doing a deal with them. But no one owns esports, so it’s an opportunity for us to come in there and create a space that we can play in that transcends everything from Call of Duty to Fortnite, 2K League or Overwatch League.” 

This isn’t the first time Anheuser-Busch has made moves in esports. In April of this year, the company partnered with the Overwatch League to bring Bud Light to Overwatch fans around the globe. They’ve created esports events such as Bud Light All-Stars, which featured many different esports athletes and influencers from all sorts of game communities. Bud Light is also a sponsor of Wizards District Gaming, an NBA 2K League team owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment. Filing a trademark to become “The Official Beer of Esports” is just their next step.

Continued involvement is wise, as esports’ rapid growth means there will be plenty of future opportunities for Anheuser-Busch during a time when beer sales are declining. eMarketer predicts that esports ad revenue will exceed $200 million by 2020, which is backed by the statistic that monthly esports viewership is anticipated to rise by 18% this year, reaching 30.3 million monthly viewers. Viewership is expected to grow even further by 2023, hitting 46.2 million monthly viewers. On top of all this is the fact that drinking age millennials are turning their attention away from traditional sports and towards esports; this is an important demographic for beer brands, so becoming involved in esports is a chance for Anheuser-Busch to attract their attention.

Compared to traditional sports, it also doesn’t cost as much to file trademarks for esports. Making Bud Light the “official beer of the NFL” purportedly cost Anheuser-Busch $1.4 billion. Their esports trademarks were cheaper and easier to obtain. Considering the aforementioned potential of esports, their returns on investment could be massive.

Of course, entering the esports ecosystem comes with some learning to do. Anheuser-Busch has been a long-time sponsor of sports like basketball and football, but esports is a whole other world with a unique and very different culture, which brands must familiarize themselves with if they want to achieve success. For instance, Kelly notes, there is no notion of grabbing a beer during the esports equivalent of halftime. And at the company’s first Overwatch League activation in Dallas, Kelly found it interesting that their Bud Knight mascot seemed to fit in more there than at traditional sports events due to the presence of equally costumed Overwatch fans.

While there are no concrete plans for the trademark yet aside from potentially using it for digital marketing and retail, Anheuser-Busch is in a promising position. Hopefully, esports will be able to see what the new “Official Beer” has to offer soon.

To learn more about how Abacus3 can help your organization become more involved in esports, call one of our esports experts at 972.323.6354.