When Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys in the early 1990s, Texas Stadium was not owned by the football franchise; therefore, the venue was not subject to the rules of the NFL corporate sponsorships. After Coors passed on the offer, Jones sold the beer-pouring rights to Miller. Today, Miller Lite remains the beer sponsor of AT&T Stadium and finding another beer at AT&T is difficult at best.
Selling the pouring rights to sporting events is embedded in the beer industry and has been an issue for decades. In recent years, college stadiums and basketball arenas have sold their pouring rights. While one can find other brands to purchase at these venues, it is typically difficult as other brands are sold in out-of-the-way locations
The state fair of Texas hosts an open-air concert stage called, The Dos Equis Pavilion. At the pavilion, one can buy a plethora of beers brands, however, the name Dos Equis is liberally splashed throughout the pavilion. The amount of money spent by breweries on these venues is enormous, but this is part of the business and has been for many years.
The industry appears to be oblivious to the growing number of vendors who have been fined for illegal payments. Constellation Brands is the latest brewer to find themselves in a less-than-favorable position, having recently agreed to a $420,000 dollar fine for buying draft placements. This comes on the heels of Heineken’s agreement to a $2.5 million fine in April. Prior to these fines, Eagle Brands was hit for $1.5 million in fines and, of course, Warsteiner paid $900,000 in fines just last year. Remember, some distributors have also been fined. Brewers Distributing paid $350,000 and Elgin Beverages paid $325,000 in fines, both for illegal activity.
It is no secret that brewers, importers, and distributors are pushing hard for volume and market share regardless of the cost. But the question is: how do buying rights to a stadium or venue differ from the buying rights of a draft handle in an account? Is this another gray area? The industry sees the blurring of lines across all three tiers as brewers, distributers, and wholesalers brew and sell beer at the brewery and act as a retailer.
Any way you look at the current situation; it seems the industry has become oblivious to announcements that another fine has been levied for some type of illegal activity or payments. As the size of the pie continues to constrict downward, expect to see more fines.
Gradually, many of the previous restrictions in the industry have either been eliminated or loosened. An example of such is the fact that professional athletes are now able to represent a brewery or beer. So where does this end? Or perhaps a more appropriate question is: in what direction will these actions lead and how will the consequences affect the future of the beer industry?
Not listening results in misunderstandings and conflicts.