Diageo becomes NFL's first spirits sponsor

NFL lifted its ban on liquor ads in 2017

Beverage alcohol company Diageo signed a multi-year agreement to become the first spirits sponsor of the NFL.

It's just the latest example of the Diageo "breaking ground in sports and entertainment" industry, the organizations said in a joint release Wednesday.  

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The major step comes just four years after the NFL lifted its ban on liquor ads. After the ban was lifted in 2017, Diageo's Crown Royal brand became the first to advertise during a televised NFL game, accompanied by its "Water Break" Responsible Drinking campaign that encouraged moderation.    

Johnnie Walker bottles lined up (iStock)

"NFL games have the powerful ability to bring people together, and that very much ties into what our brands at Diageo are all about: bringing people together to celebrate life," Diageo North America Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Ed Pilkington said. 

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The collaboration will feature the company's biggest spirits brands from Smirnoff Vodka, Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum to Crown Royal Whisky in broadcast, digital and social content throughout the entirety of the season through the Super Bowl. 

Its collection of liquor expands well beyond those brands and includes other names such as Johnnie Walker, Bulleit and Buchanan's whiskeys; Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas; Casamigos, DeLeon and Don Julio tequilas, Baileys, Tanqueray and Guinness.

The collaboration will also highlight Diageo's responsible drinking programs and "integration into marquee events such as NFL Honors" the organizations said in a joint release.  

Diageo will also become involved with NFL International Series games in London starting with the 2022 season. 

To date, Diageo already has 12 NFL team and stadium deals, marking Wednesday's announcement "a natural progression in further unifying the two organizations," according to the organizations. 

However, not only had Diageo made headway with the NFL but in 2004, it also became the first company to partner with NASCAR after the auto racing company lifted its longstanding ban on distilled spirits sponsors.