The cola giants still spend the most on sponsorships, but brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev is closing in thanks to its mega NFL deal, according to a new report by IEG, a sponsorship, research and consulting firm owned by WPP.
PepsiCo led the way in 2011, spending between $340 million and $345 million on sponsorships, followed by Coca-Cola Co., at $265 million to $270 million, according to IEG's annual look at the biggest spenders. But No. 3 AB InBev is gaining ground, spending between $255 million and $260 million, up from $220 million to $225 million in 2010. The brewer last year replaced MillerCoors as the NFL's official beer sponsor in a deal costing an estimated $50 million a year for six years. Although MillerCoors still spends plenty on individual team sponsorships, the brewer dropped from No. 7 on the list to No. 8, switching spots with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
With big sports deals driving sponsorships, the list of marketers spending at least $15 million grew from 77 to 86, according to IEG. Only seven companies on the list decreased spending, while 44 companies hiked their sponsorship outlays. "The largest sponsors are more bullish than the industry as a whole," Jim Andrews, IEG's senior VP-content strategy, said in an email. "The likely reason for this is that the top spenders are -- for the most part -- the ones who do the best job at selecting, activating and measuring the impact of their sponsorships, thus they get the most out of them and are willing to commit more resources to them each year."
Newcomers to the list of $15 million-plus spenders are: United Continental Holdings, Inc.; InterContinental Hotels Group PLC; Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; Comcast Corp.; Aaron's, Inc.; MetLife, Inc.; Volkswagen of America, Inc.; Panasonic Corp. of North America; The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.; Hyundai Motor America; National Automotive Parts Assn.; and Brown-Forman Corp. Falling off the list were: Canon U.S.A; DuPont Co.; and Sears Holdings Corp.
Here are the top 10: