Anheuser-Busch InBev Taps Vaynerchuk to Lead Beer Giant's 'Long-Term' NFT Play

The tie-up puts everything from ticketing to merchandise on the table for NFTs from the multinational suds conglomerate.

AccessTimeIconJul 14, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 3:21 a.m. UTC
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A non-fungible token of Bud Light’s blue knight yelling “Dilly Dilly”? Maybe so. The beer king’s parent company is about to go big on NFTs.

Anheuser-Busch InBev is planning a major ramp-up of its NFT crossover content, Richard Oppy, the company's vice president of global brands, told CoinDesk. He said the Budweiser brand is investing in a new NFT media shop run by internet entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk called VaynerNFT. Budweiser will also become its first client, Oppy said.

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  • Described as a “long-term business play” by beer company executives, the tie-up puts everything from ticketing to merchandise on the table for NFTs from the multinational suds conglomerate.

    At the start, the action will focus on intellectual property held by Budweiser, the world’s most valuable beer brand at $14 billion in 2020, according to Statista.

    Budweiser’s breadth “gave us an opportunity, we thought, to go big into” NFTs, Oppy said, “because we don't think that this is just a fad. We think that this is going to change the way people think about their sponsorship properties in the future.”

    Success with Stella

    Anheuser-Busch InBev has already had some success with NFTs with its Stella Artois brand. In the last few months, that label has held a handful of niche NFT charity auctions and signed onto some notable projects, such as a digital auction of horse-racing NFTs through Ethereum-based horse racing platform ZED RUN.

    “We sold over a million dollars’ worth of virtual horses,” Oppy said.

    But the Budweiser playbook will go far deeper. Vaynerchuk, a communications executive at his media shop VaynerX, said he’s working with AB InBev’s marketing team to think of ways to put Bud properties to work.

    In an interview with CoinDesk, Oppy and Vaynerchuk highlighted experiential NFTs as one potential focus area. That could mean offering NFT-holding sports and music fans access to their stars they couldn’t get elsewhere. 

    A marketing team is creating new NFTs, and Oppy named a few they have already forged including digital tokens for such items as collectibles, memorabilia, apparel, merchandise, limited-edition packaging, experiences, Super Bowl tickets and sideline spots at the World Cup. 

    “You can take it even further than that, like imagine if you had an NFT that allowed you to get beer, a fresh beer from any of our breweries around the world,” he said.

    He said a marketing team will pitch more ideas later this week.

    Driving revenue

    With more than 500 brands and a marketing budget that in 2019 eclipsed $1.5 billion, according to Statisia, AB InBev has plenty of intellectual property to work its NFTs into.

    “We already pay for” well-known assets and sponsorships, Oppy said. “It’s all about rethinking how we utilize them.”

    Vaynerchuk said NFTs could drive long-term revenue for Budweiser by capturing a slice of the secondary market. Digital ticket stubs could one day be big money, he said. Smart contracts that activate whenever a digital ticket changes hands would allow Budweiser to tap into that cash stream. 

    Tickets in particular are closely intertwined with the beer behemoth. Budweiser pledged to give away 100,000 sports tickets in April.

    “I think all the ticketing that we're involved with around the world, You know, they're all going to be NFTs in the future,” Oppy said. He said Budweiser would play an important educational role in helping customers navigate the technology of that.

    “We're already rethinking some of the way we structure our deals, whether it's with our celebrities, whether it's the music space,” Oppy said. 

    Vaynerchuk said the tie-up will begin yielding public projects in the second half of 2021.

    Bud's Richard Oppy with Gary Vaynerchuk.
    Bud's Richard Oppy with Gary Vaynerchuk.

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