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Lance Armstrong New 'Spokes' Person For Anheuser-Busch's Michelob Ultra

New Michelob Ultra spokesman Lance Armstrong. (Photo: Anheuser-Busch)October 7, 2009: In what might seem like a perfect partnership to some but an unusual union to others, Michelob Ultra said it has signed a three-year deal with Lance Armstrong to become "the brand's new spokesperson and ambassador." Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal makes Armstrong one of the most prominent active athletes to endorse an alcoholic beverage. Other than Nascar, where drivers and teams have beer and alcohol sponsors, pro sports such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball do not permit active players and coaches to sign marketing deals with alcoholic beverage companies. The NBA last season lifted a two-decade ban and began to allow teams to sell courtside advertising to hard liquor companies. MLB, Nascar and the NHL also allow alcoholic beverage companies to have ads within view of TV cameras.

Armstrong is known as much for his successful fight against cancer and his global efforts via the Lance Armstrong Foundation to find a cure for the disease as for his seven Tour de France victories. Michelob Ultra already sponsors Armstrong’s Livestrong Challenge biking events, which raise money for the cancer-awareness efforts of his foundation, and "has been a strong supporter of the sport of cycling since 2004. As part of its Race to the Ultra series, the brand sponsors more than 40 major running and cycling events annually across the country," according to the brand, a division of Anheuser-Busch InBev, St. Louis.

The 38-year-old athlete helped to break the news via Twitter, telling his followers, "Just announced a new partnership w/ Michelob Ultra. About to walk out and speak to 5000 distributors from around the USA." Armstrong's other marketing partners include Nike, 24 Hour Fitness, Clear2O water, FRS energy drinks, Oakley sunglasses and RadioShack, which signed a deal this past July to be lead sponsor for Armstrong's Team RadioShack efforts as a "cyclist, runner and triathlete in events around the world, including the 2010 Tour de France."

Michelob Ultra stressed the point that the alliance is key to its strategy to position itself as the beer of choice for people who not only enjoy sports but are into health and fitness. "Lance Armstrong is an ideal ambassador for this brand and we are honored to have him represent Michelob Ultra," Keith Levy, vp-marketing for Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement. "Having dominated a sport that requires such a physical commitment, Lance is the perfect athlete to connect with adult beer drinkers who lead active lifestyles."

Armstrong will appear in a new Michelob Ultra TV spot, "Little Bumps," in which he is seen successfully cycling up a steep incline while a voiceover says, "Some people see mountains [they must overcome] . . .  others see bumps." He also will make what was called a "cameo appearance" in a second ad, "Escalator," both which are scheduled to air in 2010. Michelob Ultra said it would also use Armstrong's likeness on print, outdoor advertising, digital marketing programs, product packaging and POS. Creative will include a drink responsibly message. Michelob Ultra's lead agency is Euro RSCG, Chicago.

"I'm always making decisions that complement my active lifestyle, and this includes my beer choice when I want to enjoy a cold one with friends or when taking a break from training," Armstrong said in a statement. "I'm excited about my association with Michelob Ultra, a brand that supports cycling and running communities across the U.S. and is a favorite among active adults."

Armstrong retired in 2005 after winning his record seventh consecutive Tour de France, but returned in 2009 and finished third in the event. Armstrong has been at odds with Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage, the group that oversees and legislates the use of banned substances in France. Armstrong has faced accusations of having used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during Tour de France events but has not failed any tests administered by AFLD. Back to Home Page