NFL Reels in Diageo, Four Years After Lifting Ban on Liquor Ads

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The National Football League is getting its first official liquor sponsor, four years after lifting a ban on the advertising of spirits on its broadcasts.

Diageo Plc, the world’s largest distiller, signed a multiyear deal with the league that spans marketing platforms, including broadcast, digital and social channels, the parties plan to announce Wednesday. They’re not disclosing financial terms.

The NFL lifted its ban on liquor ads in 2017, with the caveat that spots include social-responsibility messages and not target underage drinkers. One of Diageo’s businesses, whiskey brand Crown Royal, was the first liquor label to advertise during an NFL game that year. It also owns Captain Morgan rum, Smirnoff vodka and Tanqueray gin.

In 2019, the league further eased its alcohol restrictions by allowing the use of team and player likenesses in ads for beer, wine and spirits. That came as hard seltzer made a major push into sports, including football, with AB InBev’s alcoholic seltzer Bon & Viv signing an agreement with the NFL.

Diageo said in May that sales are recovering as pandemic lockdowns end in many markets around the world. Executives said they see rising consumer demand in North America.

The distiller has ongoing deals with 12 NFL teams and stadiums and will now be involved in events including the NFL Honors awards show and international games.

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