The nation’s top-selling craft beer has another feather for its fascinator: Blue Moon today announced that it is the official craft beer of the Kentucky Derby and the first-ever craft beer sponsor of Churchill Downs Racetrack.
MillerCoors and Churchill Downs have agreed to a multi-year pact that grants Blue Moon with exclusive craft beer sponsorship rights year-round at the racetrack, including for the Kentucky Derby.
As part of the sponsorship, Churchill Downs will develop and open the Blue Moon Taproom & Balcony, a new bar that will overlook the racetrack’s historic paddock and be open during live racing. The Blue Moon Taproom & Balcony will serve Blue Moon products, including specialty offerings brewed at the brand’s Denver brewery.
Blue Moon also will be the title sponsor of Churchill Downs’ Twilight Thursday racing series, a happy hour event held each week during the track’s spring and September race meets that features live racing, music and specialty food and drink. On Derby Day, the brand will host fans in an elaborate, branded pop-up venue in Churchill Downs’ infield.
“The Kentucky Derby is one of the premier events in sports and entertainment, and it has a certain culture around it — an elevated premium brand and experience that we feel is a perfect tie to what Blue Moon is all about,” says Sean Robberson, senior brand manager for Blue Moon. “This not only gives us a presence in the most-renowned racing venue in the country, but it’s our first real foray into a large, national-scale event. This sponsorship is a big deal for Blue Moon as we seek to maintain our leadership in the craft space.”
Kristin Warfield, vice president of partnerships at Churchill Downs Racetrack, said her team is “excited to bring Blue Moon to the thousands of racing fans who attend the Derby on the first Saturday in May and other premier racing events at Churchill Downs throughout the year.
“The partnership is a perfect fit with Churchill Downs’ guests and racing fans who want to enjoy a premium craft beer experience while watching the world’s greatest horse racing under the iconic twin spires,” she said.
Known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” the Kentucky Derby is one of the most celebrated sporting and entertainment events in the U.S., with Derby celebrations taking place across the country, Robberson says. That gives the brand other opportunities to play a role in celebrations and parties at bars and at-home viewing parties.
“The Derby is a bucket list item for people, but not everyone is able to attend, especially not every year,” Robberson says. “So, more and more, we’re seeing people start to replicate the Derby experience in bars and restaurants, as well as at parties thrown in their homes.”
Supported by a national social and digital media campaign and out-of-home advertising, Blue Moon will make available a suite of cross-branded glassware and retail point-of-sale marketing materials, as well as Blue Moon-branded accessories, such as bowties, pocket squares, scarves, seersucker vests and, of course, the fascinator, the signature millinery of the Derby.
With the Derby held each year on the first Saturday in May, the timing also is favorable for the brand, as it heads into the summer selling season, Robberson says. “We’re very excited to join this celebration.”