Think a flashlight and beer have nothing in common? Patrick Mahomes is here to change your mind.
The four-time Pro Bowler, 2018 NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion is the newest star in a Coors Light video … except, there’s a catch.
Active NFL players aren’t technically allowed to promote alcoholic beverages. That didn’t stop Mahomes and a very creative marketing team from finding a loophole.
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The Coors Light that Mahomes is pitching isn’t actually a beer at all, but a flashlight, littered with references to fluid ounces, high-quality steel and how it’s “perfect for summer nights.”
Hence, the Coors Light.
But why did they have to jump through so many hoops to make this partnership possible? Here’s a little information on the NFL’s rules for player endorsements of beer companies.
Why can’t NFL players promote beer companies?
It’s not that NFL players can’t promote beer companies … it’s that they can’t promote beer. Don’t get it twisted.
While beer has been a staple of NFL ad culture since the dawn of time, companies selling hard liquor were banned from advertising with the NFL until 2017. The eventual easing of that policy marked a major shift in the league’s position, but came with a few caveats. Advertisers were expected to include messages of social responsibility and not to target underage consumers.
The next update to the league’s policy came in 2019, allowing alcohol, wine and seltzer brands to use teams’ and players’ likeness in their ads. Once again, however, there were some strings attached.
The policy change -- which only allows active players to participate -- states that there can’t be any implication of an actual product endorsement. Another funny catch is that brands can either choose to use the image and likeness of one athlete, or a minimum of six. There is no middle ground.
There are a few more rules regarding existing team partnerships and photographers, but this opened up a new outlet for players and brands to partner with one another.
The Mahomes ad checks all those boxes, while staying on topic about the beer disguised as a flashlight.
Do other leagues have rules about partnering with alcohol companies?
The NBA and MLB have maintained a hands-off approach when regulating player partnership with alcohol companies.
While these leagues aren’t the juggernaut that is the NFL, they still make a big splash on the ad stage and the alcohol companies have made the most out of the NBA and MLB player partnerships.
What other industries have NFL ad regulations?
The liquor and beer companies aren’t alone in their fight to partner with NFL players.
As of 2017, the league bans included gambling, tobacco products and “establishments featuring nude performers.”
While some of those guidelines remain intact, the emergence and legalization of sports betting throughout the country have changed the game. Gambling commercials began appearing during NFL games in the 2021 season.