Anheuser-Busch has announced a partnership with UFC as the struggling beer company looks to fight back following backlash from Dylan Mulvaney.
Bud Light has now become the official beer sponsor of the UFC with a six-year marketing partnership, the companies announced.
This was announced by a source familiar with the deal CNBC that the sponsorship deal is “well in the nine-figure range” and is the largest in the history of the mixed martial arts promotion.
With this deal, the brewery re-establishes ties with an organization that is considered more conservative than many other sports after a tumultuous year.
In April, the company partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, a move that proved disastrous 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 as part of the March Madness campaign in April and was gifted a can of the light beer with her face on it – sparking outrage
Mulvaney shared pictures of herself holding a personalized can to celebrate the 1st anniversary of her transition and posing with beer cans in a bathtub.
The brand has been accused of getting involved in one of the most explosive culture war topics there is.
The partnership angered conservative drinkers, who quickly boycotted the brand, but also angered liberals who said the company had failed to respond in solidarity with Mulvaney.
After the disastrous partnership with Mulvaney, the former best-selling beer was overtaken by brands like 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, up from 12 percent immediately before the partnership.
Compared to the same period last year, sales fell by around 30 percent in both volume and value.
In the week after the campaign launched, on April 1, Bud Light dollar sales fell 6 percent, while Coors Light rose 3.5 percent and Miller Lite rose 3.1 percent.
Several famous faces criticized the brand for the move, including Kid Rock, who shot the beer cans with a machine gun and said: “F*** Bud Light and f*** Anheuser-Busch.”
The brand has been accused of getting involved in one of the most explosive culture war topics there is. Magomed Ankalaev (left) fights light heavyweight with Johnny Walker on October 21st
After the move, what was once the best-selling beer was overtaken by brands like Modelo and Coors. Khamzat Chimaev, above, fights Kamaru Usman on October 21 in Abu Dhabi
In the uproar that ensued after the collaboration was announced, Anheuser-Busch issued a statement saying it supported the brand’s decision to work with Mulvaney.
Anheuser-Busch CEO Michael Doukaris also tried to downplay the Mulvaney campaign.
Doukeris said: “We need to clarify the facts that it was a camp, an influencer, a post and not a campaign.”
“Beer Business Daily” editor Harry Schuhmacher said Fox last month that Bud Light’s declining sales signaled “quasi-permanent” damage to the brand and that longtime consumers were “simply lost forever.”
In a survey over the summer, YouGov found that the beer had been removed from the list of the country’s top ten most popular beers.
While the percentage of Americans who “liked” Bud Light remained unchanged, the popularity of other competing beers rose sharply, bringing it to 15th place.
They found that Guinness, Corona and Heineken were the three most popular 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 made a splash in Las Vegas when 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 8, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
In a new YouGov poll of 1,468 people, public approval of the beer plummeted so much that it fell out of the top ten to 15th place
In the summer, the company also launched a new advertising campaign with the aim of making Bud Light the “beer of easy enjoyment” again.
“Get a cold: We have an epic summer ahead of us.” “Sock tan included,” the company wrote on Twitter — its first tweet since April 14, just weeks after the Mulvaney explosion.
The ad shows customers cooling off in the summer heat with cans of beer while quickly dragging a cooler full of Bud Light behind them.
The company announced the campaign on its social media after the Mulvaney partnership sparked backlash
In a statement announcing the partnership, UFC CEO Dana White said, “Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light were the original beer sponsors of the UFC more than fifteen years ago.” I’m proud to announce that we’re back in business together .
“There are many reasons why I chose Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, primarily because I feel we are very similar in terms of our core values and what the UFC brand stands for.”
“I look forward to all the incredible things we will do in the coming years.”
Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said: “Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light have always been at the forefront of iconic sports moments that fans remember forever, and reuniting with UFC is a continuation of that industry-leading legacy.”