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Alcohol Sponsorships And College Sports

By: Ryan Putz


Have you ever noticed how many alcohol commercials are aired during college sporting events?  Well if you haven’t taken notice, Alcohol companies are advertising a heavy amount during these college events, and have even gone to the extent of forming partnerships with some of these big name schools.  This is a huge concern to parents and adults due to the fact that the majority of students who attend these universities are under the legal drinking age of 21.  

Collegiate football and basketball attracts hundreds of thousands of views every week on television and alcohol companies are teaming up with these schools and networks to make sure that their brand gets out there during these events. The University of Houston named Bud Light its official beer, making it available for sale during athletic events.  The beer’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch, has the rights to use elements of the university’s brand in its marketing.  The University of Texas-Austin announced a similar partnership with Corona in July, the first for that beer company with a university. The campaign — taglined “Horns up, Limes In!” — will include a special “Corona Beach House” tailgate area located near the university’s football stadium, where fans can take photos with Corona’s “iconic” Adirondack chair, the company said,”  (Kruzman, Tulp, 2017) . 

These sponsorships and marketing tactics with these big power 5 schools are making huge money for alcohol companies and in turn for the schools as well, but it’s not only in sponsorship money, it’s sales as well.  Over the years as more and more schools are partnering with beer companies, which means there will be an increase in college football stadiums that are starting to sell the beer of those sponsored companies at their games, and the schools are making hand over fist.  “Texas, which began selling beer in its stadium in 2015, reported $3.1 million in revenue and $1.3 million in profit from the 2016 season,”  (Smith, Lefton 2017).  

It’s crazy to think that college events used to be off limits for beer marketers due to the massive amount of underage audience that live on the campus.  But thanks to persistent beer brands, the companies and the schools have worked together to come up with a message around “drinking responsibly”.  They feel that with this message it will not look like they are condoning underage alcohol consumption.  It is thanks to this marketing message that categorical giant ABI now owns the marketing rights to close to 60 colleges (Smith, Lefton 2017).

Another big argument that schools are giving is that it is a way to decrease beer drinking and alcohol related activity during college sporting events (Brenner 2016).  At our very own WVU, “In 2011, the first year of beer sales, arrests dropped to 79 arrests, close to a 35 percent decrease from 117 arrests the previous year” (Brenner 2016). The schools say it is a way to gain a measure of control over the alcohol being consumed at these events, but I think it is just an excuse so they can profit off of the college drinking mentality. What do you think?


Work Cited 

Brenner, L. 2016. “Fundraising Ideas for a Nonprofit Organization.” Your Business, Retrieved from: 2016, yourbusiness.azcentral.com/fundraising-ideas-nonprofit-organization-4775.html

Kruzman, D, and Tulp S. 2017.“College Football Fans Love Beer. Now Universities Want to Cash In.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 9, Retrieved from: www.usatoday.com/story/college/2017/08/09/college-football-fans-love-beer-now-universities-want-to-cash-in/37434695/

Smith, M and Lefton, T. 2017.“Colleges Chug Beer Dollars.” Sports Business Daily, Retrieved From: www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2017/07/31/Colleges/Beer.aspx. 

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