By John F. Di Leo -
Coors Light is the official beer of the Fighting Illini.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Coors Light was voted on by the student body of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or that the school’s sports teams drink the stuff at halftime or wear its logo on their cars. No, just like dozens of other products from soft drinks to gym shoes, it means that the company signed a sponsorship deal with the University of Illinois.
Now, I don’t know how you feel about it, but with the cost of college skyrocketing, I’m inclined to think that almost any revenue stream that doesn’t require tax increases or tuition hikes is worth considering. If the product is legal – and beer has been legal in this country for eighty years now – it’s legitimate for a sponsorship deal.
Within months, the sponsorship was paying dividends. MillerCoors worked with the university to develop artwork, and promptly – multinational corporations know how to move fast – MillerCoors was advertising the school along with its product, on barroom tabletop tents and posters, on coasters and print ads and billboards around the Urbana-Champaign area.
That’s when the school’s worthies (or whatever passes for worthies at that school) threw a hissy fit. “We didn’t approve billboards!” they screamed, and they demanded that the billboards come down.