Beer, advertising and sports have long been bedfellows. We drink beer while watching the big game as sponsors tempt us to consume more on billboards and TV. This is the bread and butter for mega brewers. They consistently dip into large advertising budgets that craft brewers can only dream of acquiring. The NHL and Major League Baseball command bidding wars, but less popular sports are an opportunity for craft beer.

One such case occurred last week when USA Ski Jumping announced a long-term partnership with Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma. The six-figure sponsorship will extend until the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi Russia and entitles the brewery to a presence at events and the right to produce co-branded apparel and products. One of those products will include a limited edition beer with a portion of the proceeds going back to the USASJ.

The deal will improve Lagunitas’ brand recognition as they continue to expand production and the reach of their products. Ski jumping is far more popular in Europe, a market that Lagunitas plans on entering in 2012. As for the USASJ, they now have a portion of the funds they need to strive for Olympic gold. The young team doesn’t receive any financial support from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, so equipment, coaches and the cost of travel is a personal expense unless sponsors help out.

From the USA Ski Jumping press release:

“We have always proudly supported our community and friends in need.  It was clear that the USASJ needed a few new friends,” said Lagunitas CMO Ron Lindenbusch. “This sponsorship is right in line with our basic philosophy – we try to find ways to turn beer into money to help the cause and we always seem to make a few new friends of our own along the way.”

“Lagunitas understands that they are much more than a sponsor. They’re a partner in helping grow the ski jumping sport out of the margins and onto the front page,” said USASJ Executive Director Jeff Hastings. “We are thrilled to have them. They have a broad and growing market and a very loyal customer base we hope to engage.”

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