Coca-Cola is struggling without live sports, as sales fell 28% year-over-year last quarter. That largely is due to the fact that half the brand’s sales are from away-from-home venues like sports stadiums, as well as movie theaters, bars, and restaurants.
Due to that slump in sales across the first quarter as the pandemic started to ravage the U.S., Coca-Cola started to pull back its marketing dollars from sports. That included not renewing its MLB partnership, which it took over from Pepsi in 2017.
Soda companies spent 78% less in advertising from March 16 to April 26 – a period that saw nearly half of ads targeted toward sports in 2019 alongside events like the NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA and NHL playoffs.
Soda companies aren’t the only major sports sponsors struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sixty-two percent of sponsors said they will re-evaluate their sponsorship spending post-pandemic, with 20% saying they will decrease spending, according to IEG. In total, more than $10 billion in sponsorship spending needs to be made up due to the shutdown of the sports and entertainment industry.
With MLB, the NHL, and the NBA all starting play in the next two weeks, it’s likely that major brand campaigns normally dependent on sports will start back up on television; Bud Light has already announced two new spots around baseball.