Michelob Ultra gives NBA fans a way to virtually attend live games

Brief:

  • Michelob Ultra is sponsoring a digital experience that lets people virtually attend games as the NBA restarts its season without fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Michelob Ultra Courtside digital experience is part of a sponsorship agreement that makes the AB InBev brand the official beer of the NBA, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
  • Fans on July 30 can visit an Ultra Courtside microsite or follow Michelob Ultra’s social channels for details on how to win access to the digital experience and other giveaways. The NBA is working with Microsoft Teams to create the virtual fan experience that will show 300 fans “attending” the games on giant videoconferencing screens, per a Microsoft blog post.
  • As part of its celebration of the NBA Restart, Michelob Ultra on July 24 released the first in series of TV spots starring five-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat. The NBA’s regular season resumes on July 30 with games televised on TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV.

Insight:

Michelob Ultra’s sponsorship of a virtual fan experience within its agreement to be the official beer of the NBA shows how marketers are adapting to the pandemic’s disruptions on live sports. The league was among the sports organizations worldwide that suspended operations in March as the health crisis led cities, states and countries to prohibit mass gatherings at arenas and stadiums, eliminating a key promotional channel for advertisers.

With the resumption of the NBA’s season this week, Michelob Ultra has an opportunity to feature its branding in a digital fan experience that will be shown in game broadcasts. Its logo will be featured prominently on giant videoconferencing screens that show fans virtually “attending” the games while the stands are empty of people. By offering fans a chance to participate in the videoconferencing activation, Michelob Ultra can engage the most ardent NBA fans over social media with a digital experience that also showcases its branding.

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Michelob Ultra’s sponsorship of a digital experience for basketball fans follows recent promotions that reimagine sporting events and other activities during the pandemic. The brand in May sponsored a charity golf event featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson playing against NFL greats Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The event offered social media users a chance to win prizes such as a golf cart. A month earlier, Michelob Ultra started livestreaming video workouts from its social channels to reach consumers stuck at home during the pandemic. The “Movement by Michelob Ultra Live” series gave viewers a chance to pay tips to trainers who appeared in the videos and raised money for gym workers who faced financial hardship during lockdowns.

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