Lionel Messi To The Rescue: Could Soccer Superstar Help Beer Company Move Past Boycott And Backlash? – Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD)


Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer company behind popular brands like Budweiser and Bud Light, has had a challenging year in 2023. The company faced boycotts and backlash against its Bud Light brand, leading to declining sales and a loss of its top-selling U.S. beer brand status. However, Anheuser-Busch may have found a way to turn things around with the signing of soccer superstar Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.

The “Messi effect” has been evident in Major League Soccer (MLS) and Inter Miami, as well as Apple Inc. The signing of Messi has significantly increased brand awareness, sales, and subscriptions for these entities. Anheuser-Busch, as the official beer sponsor of the CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024, is hoping for a similar boost with Messi as its brand ambassador.

The beer company will promote its Michelob Ultra brand as the sponsor of the 2024 Copa America tournament, where 16 North American, Central American, and South American countries will compete for the title. Messi expressed his excitement about joining Michelob Ultra for the tournament, highlighting the energy and memorable experiences the brand will create for football teams, players, and fans.

The partnership between Anheuser-Busch and Messi is seen as a celebration of their shared passion for football. Marcel Marcondes, AB InBev Chief Marketing Officer, described it as a perfect pairing of a superior athlete with their superior light beer. As part of the sponsorship, Michelob Ultra and other AB InBev-owned brands will provide brand experiences, Fan Fest events, and be involved in the Superior Player of the Match Trophy and in-locker-room celebrations.

Anheuser-Busch has a history of sponsoring soccer events, including the 2022 World Cup. After facing declining sales of Bud Light, the company turned to sponsorships with college football teams and partnerships with NFL players like Travis Kelce to enhance brand awareness and appeal to sports fans.

Messi’s Argentina is one of the favorites to win the 2024 Copa America, alongside Brazil. Argentina won the previous edition of the tournament in 2021, with Messi playing a crucial role. He scored four goals and was named the best player. Argentina also won the 2022 World Cup, with Messi delivering an impressive performance of seven goals and three assists.

Messi’s popularity extends beyond the soccer field. He is the second-most followed person on Instagram, with nearly 500 million followers. His presence as a brand ambassador for Anheuser-Busch is expected to attract fans and consumers alike.

In terms of stock performance, Anheuser-Busch shares are currently trading at $63.02, with a 52-week range of $51.66 to $67.09. The shares have rebounded by 6% year-to-date after experiencing a dip during the peak of the boycotts.

The signing of Lionel Messi as the brand ambassador for Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Ultra brand for the 2024 Copa America tournament is a strategic move to revitalize the company’s image and boost sales. With Messi’s star power and the passion for football, Anheuser-Busch aims to create memorable experiences for fans while aligning itself with one of the most beloved athletes in the world.

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