Vizzy offers pickleball sponsorship as niche sport grows

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Diving Brief:

  • The Molson Coors Vizzy brand is the first-ever official hard seltzer on the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) tour, according to a press release.
  • The partnership includes marketing efforts with onsite, out of home (OOH), social media, retail and influencer marketing integrations. Molson Coors Miller Lite and Simply Spiked Lemonade brands, among others, will also be available at select PPA tournaments.
  • The partnership between the two entities reflects not only the growing popularity of pickleball, but also the continued attempt by mainstream brands to venture into more niche sports partnerships and alternative ways to reach drinkers.

Overview of the dive:

As the first-ever official hard seltzer on the PPA Tour, Vizzy will take an active role in promoting pickleball, which is considered the fastest growing sport in the United States. In addition to hard seltzer, Molson Coors is also the organization’s beer and flavored malt beverage partner. Such a move may hint at a desire for a bigger sports presence, as Molson Coors announced plans to return to Super Bowl advertising this year for the first time in 33 years.

Pickleball, which currently has 4.8 million players, has seen massive growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Invented in 1965 and described as a cross between badminton, ping pong and tennis, it has seen an average annual growth rate of 11.5% over the past five years, with a growth rate of 21.3 % from 2019 to 2020 only. While most of the sports core players are over 65, the biggest growth is in players under 55. This rapidly growing young demographic lends itself to sponsorships of trendy businesses, like hard seltzer and other malt beverages.

The sponsorship between Vizzy and the PPA also reflects the brand’s efforts to fit into a niche market as the hard seltzer industry is in flux. Once the star of beer alternatives, the growth of hard seltzer has slowed significantly as oversaturation and competition from alternative products increases. Some of the company’s non-alcoholic offerings such as ZOA Energy and ZenWTR alkaline water will also join the PPP existing range of soft drinks.

While the big players in sports advertising remain basketball, football and baseball, more and more niche sports are seeing an advertising push as viewer fragmentation increases. Although massively popular in the rest of the world, soccer has seen significant growth in interest in the United States, especially among women’s teams. Other female-dominated sports leagues, such as the WNBA, also saw new corporate sponsors join its ranks. Even more niche businesses, such as esports, are getting major support from brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev. US Quadball, officially known as Quidditch, has also attracted interest from sponsors and recently aired on national television for the first time.

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