The economy has hurt sports marketing, but the good news is that 2010 was a rare year, with the Olympics and World Cup happening at the same time. And TV ratings for sports are strong, especially compared to other entertainment.
At the IMG Sports Marketing Symposium in New York, boasting record audience numbers on Tuesday, MillerCoors CMO Andy England opened the conference with a discussion of the "three R's": retail activation, relationships and reach. "Sports deliver the right audience for our media message. Sports deliver audience and reach I care about. That's why we spent 60% of media against sports," he said.
He said the company also is looking to find ways to activate more strongly in the summer, which is when people drink the most beer. And he said activating at retail is the key. "Job number one is more assets to activate during the summer," he said, explaining that MillerCoors' largest trade channel is convenience stores, then on-premise at bars, restaurants and the like. Next comes grocery stores. "My point is -- retail activation of sports is critical."
Understanding the local nature of the beer market is especially important and not just for craft brews, said England. "Consider this: Coors Light is the largest beer in New York, where we outsell Miller Lite, 8 to 1. But in Chicago, Miller Lite outsells Coors. Prior to the merger of SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Co., Coors had a 2 share in Washington and a 29 share in Idaho. Share is local, and so is pricing. And that means local using local assets for marketing programs are more important."
England also said the focus of the company's marketing is on twenty-something beer drinkers, mostly men. "In my business, it's about hitting core users. The key is men, and Latinos are increasingly important. Not only do Latinos index higher than average -- they are not wine drinkers, and their age is lower." England said 24% of Hispanics are 21- to-25-year-old males. "And that will reach 31% in five years."
This year, MillerCoors has launched sponsorship programs around soccer, including becoming the official beer of the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) in the U.S. "This is a big deal for us and the biggest breakthrough program we have developed this year," he said. In 2011, the brewer is upping media spend against sponsorship of Mexican soccer on media like Telemundo, Azteca, and Univision.
Its social-media strategy to build relationships with consumers includes a big commitment to fantasy football on channels like ESPN.com, according to England, who said that if fantasy football were a separate sport, it would be the fourth-largest in terms of reach. "And 75% of people who play are beer drinkers, and the game is popular with 17- to-34-year-olds." He said the company is expanding its efforts in fantasy football to support Miller Lite.