How Molson Coors came to dominate podcasts

When it comes to podcasting, there’s no bigger beverage alcohol sponsor than Molson Coors.

That’s what Michelle St. Jacques, the company’s chief marketing officer, told attendees of the Molson Coors Distributors Convention yesterday in Nashville.

“We were the first brand in beer to make a significant investment in this space. We invest more than our biggest competitors combined in podcasting – one of the fastest growing media spaces in the past three years,” she said. “In fact, we own category exclusivity for the top three sports podcasts.”

Molson Coors’ top brands, Coors Light and Miller Lite, sponsor some the top podcasts around, including the three leading sports podcasts: “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” “Pardon My Take” and “The Dan Le Batard Show.” The company’s priority brands, including Blue Moon and Vizzy Hard Seltzer, also show up on top-ranked shows like “Chicks in the Office” and “The Breakfast Club,” part of the Black Effect podcast network founded by Charlamagne tha God.

The company’s investment in the ascendant podcast space shows Molson Coors is “not afraid to blow things up to do things differently from our past and our competition to forge a new path that meets our drinkers where they are,” St. Jacques said.

It’s no wonder Molson Coors is eyeing the podcasting world. More than 120 million Americans listen to podcasts, with that number expected to grow to 160 million by 2024, according to data compiled by Buzzsprout. Sixty percent of listeners have bought a product after hearing about it on a podcast, while nearly 70% say the ads raise their awareness of brands and products.

And for brands, it doesn’t get much better than a celebrity touting your product, especially when it seems completely organic.

That’s what makes podcasts such an invaluable advertising medium for Molson Coors and its brands, said Brad Feinberg, the company’s vice president of media and consumer engagement. Take a recent spot for Miller Lite that aired on “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” the comedian's popular podcast.

“You’re getting two minutes of uninterrupted Miller Lite content from Conan, talking about the brand and the core attributes in his own unique way,” Feinberg said. “You know he’s doing it as a commercial, but he’s doing it in an authentic way.”

O’Brien’s show is among dozens on which the beverage company has established exclusive partnerships, a low-barrier opportunity that pays big dividends by tying its product closely to popular podcasts and their hosts.

Molson Coors’ podcast strategy started to take shape in 2020 as the medium exploded, with A-list talent migrating to the digital airwaves – and bringing their fans along with them.

A nifty feature of the podcasts where Molson Coors has partnerships is the hosts bringing the brands to life in their own voice in a way that fits seamlessly into their programming.

“This medium has the unique ability to build a real connection for our brands with the show, the hosts and their audience,” Feinberg said. And when a host is truly a fan of a brand – as is the case with sports talker Simmons and Miller Lite – “it feels very authentic.”

And many podcast hosts move across media. The hosts of Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take,” which Coors Light sponsors, are prolific social media users, and often share their love of Coors products with their fans. They recently visited Molson Coors’ brewery in Golden, Colo., sharing their adventures with millions of followers.

“It often goes above and beyond the allotted commercial time. You just cannot get that in any other media channel,” Feinberg said.

The sports and entertainment fields will continue to play major roles in the company’s podcast strategy. This fall, Miller Lite signed on to sponsor ESPN’s popular “Fantasy Focus” podcast, and it will continue supporting Simmons’ show, “Pardon My Take” and betting platform Draft Kings’ shows hosted by Le Batard.

Molson Coors aims to secure partnerships on podcasts in local markets, growing its ties beyond custom packaging for pro and college football alliances, and marketing campaigns that reflect local flavor, Feinberg said.

Above all, Molson Coors intends to make sure its brands penetrate culture in the places consumers spend time.

Or, as Feinberg says: “Right place, right time and right message.”