In the Doghouse

A-B InBev Rubs Bud Light in UFC Fan Faces

February 20, 2012

budlightufcmirrorWith its sponsorship of The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest promoter of cage fighting events, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) gets ultimate advertising bang for its primary sponsor buck. Since November 2011, when UFC and FOX Sports secured their 7-year, $700 million deal to air live fights on prime-time television, more underage viewers than ever have seen people beating one another to a bloody pulp, brought to them by Bud Light.  The Bud Light logo is imbued throughout all UFC events, including live fights, Pay-Per-View, and television broadcasts that reach 354 million homes worldwide. UFC's 7.5 million Facebook fans have access to live streaming of fights via Facebook, and limitless YouTube videos of bloody fights, promotions, and “pornohol” such as a Bud Light Lime adfeaturing UFC “Octagon girl” Arianny Celeste, in which she's topless, underwear-clad and rolling around in a bed of limes. 

In its 2011 announcement of Bud Light’s UFC sponsorship renewal, ABI boasts that it “will continue to immerse the beer into all areas of the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization.” This includes a thinly veiled effort to target underage youth with graphic violence and sexually explicit ads, especially males. According to UFC president Dana White, "UFC is definitely a younger guy's sport. Our target audience is anywhere from age 17 to 35." 

Perhaps the target audience is even younger than that. Indeed, the UFC openly markets to children, selling UFC action figures at Toys “R” Us, as well as UFC video games and children's clothing. Meanwhile, UFC athletes and White himself have recently come under fire for sexist, homophobic, violent and derogatory remarks, including jokes about rape and sexual assault, prompting letters and petitions to ABI (to halt its sponsorship) and Fox (to drop UFC from its lineup).
Thankfully, some public health and social justice advocates are able to articulate the hypocrisy of ABI sponsoring UFC while it puts a Bud Light Lime sign on a Pride parade program, waves a rainbow flag, and implores "drink responsibly." But the UFC audience, including the general public and youth nationwide, continue to be saturated with more and more graphic violence directed at young people. Brought to them by Bud Light.