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How Anheuser-Busch is disrupting football advertising with the XFL

“Don’t be surprised if the NFL adopts a similar strategy within three years”
Credit: AP

ST. LOUIS — The XFL has already shown its willingness to innovate on the football field. It's showing that same inclination with its advertising partners, and Anheuser-Busch InBev appears willing to test the league's limits.

That was evident in the opening week matchup between the St. Louis BattleHawks and Dallas Renegades, when Renegades players sported a Bud Light Seltzer logo on the back of their helmets. Then, after the game, victorious BattleHawks players were seen crushing cans of the hard seltzer in the locker room in celebration.

According to Variety, the XFL expects viewers to see more of that as the season progresses, and brands are eager to embrace it.

“I think the XFL being a new league, they are a little more lenient in terms of things they can offer to sponsors, so we saw this as an opportunity to market our products in new and unique ways,” Nick Kelly, vice president of partnerships, beer culture and community at Anheuser-Busch InBev, told Variety via email. “We’re going to continue doing that as the rest of the season unfolds and take the learnings with XFL and translate them to more traditional sports.”

Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University, told Variety he wasn't surprised by the XFL's leniency in letting brands tread on new territory.

“It’s consistent with the league’s receptiveness and openness to be innovative and different,” he said. “Don’t be surprised if the NFL adopts a similar strategy within three years.”

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