To appeal to young, health-minded urban drinkers, Michelob Ultra needed a brand refresh. Gaining consideration and relevance was critical, as the brand significantly under-indexed in the light beer category with men aged 21 to 49 (49% lower than average) and women aged 28 to 34 (17% lower than average).
To reach these key demographics, Michelob Ultra partnered with the NBA — which nearly two-thirds of Americans aged 18 to 44 are avid or casual fans — to become the league’s official beer sponsor.
And then COVID-19 hit. As the pandemic threw the NBA’s season into jeopardy and other sponsors divested, Michelob Ultra stuck with the league. With fans barred from attending games, the company partnered with Microsoft to create Michelob Ultra Courtside. A valuable branding play, the program turned empty stadiums into a platform to showcase a variety of virtual fans.
The increased exposure and relevance drove a substantial lift in a number of important consumer metrics, including consideration (plus 4.3%), reach (plus 31%) and share of voice (plus 6%). The result was a 32% increase in Michelob Ultra sales, an impressive lift considering that in 2020 overall beer distribution remained flat.