NFL rule change cheers brewers

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(Caption: Bud Light – the official beer of the NFL) image by Roger W CC BY-SA 2.0

As one of the game’s biggest advertisers, the brewing industry raised a cheer recently when the NFL decided to relax its rules on featuring current players in beer commercials. In previous seasons, only former players and coaches could be featured in ads, despite the fact that Anheuser-Busch’s brew, Bud Light, is the NFL’s ‘official beer’. From the start of the 2019 season this fall, advertisers will be able to feature current NFL players, but only under certain, very strict conditions.

The move follows a similar rule change in baseball and basketball last season, where the MLB and NBA revised their own restrictions on current player use. The power of the changes was proved when Budweiser featured NBA superstar, Dwayne Wade, in a commercial. The ad went viral online, creating endless free spots for the company as fans shared the footage amongst themselves.

The new NFL position on alcohol brands also covers wines and spirits. These had previously been banned altogether until the 2017 season. They still won’t be able to use active players, but they will now be able to affiliate themselves with teams and use team logos on their product labels.

The change of rules opens up, even more, earning opportunities for the best roookie players, many of whom have already become rich beyond their wildest dreams following the NFL draft. Beers brands will have to pay the clubs for permission to use their player's images, but the players themselves will also get a share of the spoils. A successful run into the postseason could be a major money spinner for the superstars of the future.

However, don’t be expecting to see your favorite quarterback relaxing by the pool with a cold bottle of Bud anytime soon, as the new rules come with plenty of restrictions. Players must only be shown in official NFL uniform, in official action shots licensed by the Associated Press. What’s more, if more than one player is featured, then at least six players must be in the shot. Needless to say, there must be no suggestion that the player is endorsing the beer, or that drinking beer enhances athletic prowess or sports performance.

Nonetheless, with a 30second spot in the Super Bowl running at over $5m, there is clearly a huge pot of cash to go around when it comes to beer ads. Which means there is plenty to play for for the players as well as the Madison Avenue suits. Let’s just hope the whole circus doesn’t push up the price of a beer too much for the average thirsty drinker.