Basketball Africa League add top brewer to its growing sponsor roster

Brewing powerhouse, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) is adding some fizz to Basketball Africa League (BAL), announcing its sponsorship of the fast-growing sports league as it expands a marketing partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Seth Onyango, bird story agency

Africa’s premier men’s basketball competition, BAL has added another major sponsor to its roster, as AB InBev’s Michelob ULTRA, a leading beer brand, expands its global partnership with NBA.

The deal, announced on Thursday, will make Michelob ULTRA the exclusive and worldwide Official Beer Partner of the NBA and its affiliated leagues and events, including BAL –– a joint initiative between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Michelob ULTRA’s marketing partnership with the BAL will start with its fourth season in 2024, serving as a presenting partner for select NBA Global Games and will have an expanded on-court presence through physical branding on the baseline apron.

The beer brand joins a growing list of sponsors supporting the BAL, including Nike, Wilson, New Fortress Energy, Agence Francaise de Developpement, Air Senegal, Attorney General Alliance, Destination Senegal, Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners, Envol City, Hennessy, Jordan Brand and the Rwanda Development Board.

The beer maker is tipped to help BAL grow its fanbase, increase its visibility and generate more revenue for its teams and players.

It is also expected to create unique experiences for basketball fans in Africa, such as fan festivals, watch parties, sweepstakes and digital activations.

Additionally, Michelob ULTRA will support BAL’s social responsibility initiatives, such as youth development programs, health awareness campaigns and environmental sustainability efforts.

“We are thrilled to build upon our 25-year relationship with Anheuser-Busch and welcome Michelob ULTRA as the NBA’s first-ever global beer partner,” said Kerry Tatlock, NBA Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships and Media. 

“Michelob ULTRA has shown a passioned dedication to creating new, differentiated experiences for our fans, and we look forward to working with ULTRA to engage with our fans all around the world and bring them closer to their favourite game.”

The deal reflects the growing popularity and potential of basketball in Africa, where the sport has a large, tech-savvy and youthful fan base.

Launched in 2019 as a joint effort between the NBA and FIBA, the BAL is meant to help to tap into this market and provide a platform for talented players from across the continent.

It is also seen as a source of talent for the NBA, which has been expanding its presence and influence in Africa for years. 

The NBA has opened an office and an academy in Senegal, hosted exhibition games in South Africa and launched a digital platform for African fans. More than 100 players from Africa or with direct family ties to the continent have played in the NBA since Nigeria’s Hakeem Olajuwon became the first African player to be drafted, in 1984.

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