News broke yesterday that MolsonCoors secured the largest corproate sponsorship in NHL hsitory. MC will pay four Hundred, MILLION, dollars over the next seven years to be The Official Beer Of The NHL. The deal begins with the 2011-12 season.
Then, Labatt got all uppity. And then it got ugly.
Because MolsonCoors (they own 41%of MillerCoors in accordance of the Molson/MC merger in 2009) lost the NFL contract in May, they needed to find a new corprate partner. What better place for a CANADIAN BEER COMPANY to go than the NHL. Hockey….Canada….beer….Canada….wow, that wasn’t difficult.
Hockey and beer go together. Hockey fans are big beer drinkers. In fact, we have data that shows hockey fans are the biggest beer drinkers of any major sports league.
– Andy England, Miller Coors ExVP/CMO
Andy England’s alter ego must be Captain Obvious. Derek and I are hockey fans, and were drink beer. Being fans of the New York Islanders, we drink TONS of beer. Kidding aside, MC landed the biggest of fish in this deal. There’s no doubt they will recoup said $400M in not time.
The nasty bit comes when you look up and see blue. Labatt (Canadian subsidiary of InBev since 1995 and AB/InBev since 2008) as of is crying foul over the deal citing sponsorship renewal talks were well underway when the MC deal was announced. Labatt’s position is that they had been negotiating in good faith, and completed all legally binding terms associated with renewing the partnership. Labatt feels they were “clotheslined.”
None of this would be big deal if it weren’t the two biggest brewers in Canada, also located in Toronto and Montreal. This is the corporate version of Maple Leafs v. Canadiens. Losing to each other is tantamount to death, so you can understand if this gets out of hand.
But all of that is pretty damn irrelevant due to one fact, courtesy of Molson Coors Canada prez Dave Perkins: the #1 beer brand in all of Canada is Coors Light. Molson checks in at #3.
This saddens, enrages, and baffles me. Coors Light is piss, and sometimes smells like banana Jolly rancher piss. Molson is damn fine beer. There is no Canadian lager that isn’t good. Unfortunately, this explains why there was BUDWEISER at the Heritage classic in Calgary this past weekend.
And Montreal got shut the fuck out. I’d like to look at this retroactively, apply my own logic and reality, and assume it’s because they dump that pisswasser on the masses.
If I’m going to pick sides, I’m going Team Blue. Labatt is brewed in London, Ontario (just outside Toronto) making them not French, they have sponsored Hockey Night In Canada since the inception of hockey, and their marketing campaign is based off the idea that you get so drunk off their beer you end up on your back staring at the sky (“Look Up, See Blue. Labatt Blue”).
This is a win for Molson and a win for the NHL. But our friends to the north love Coors Light over their own frosty mugs of lagery goodness. Shame.
(Stick taps to Puck Daddy, the New York Times, the Toronto Globe & Mail, Wikipedia, Bob and Doug McKenzie, and the Calgary Flames for the above resources)