Leinenkugel’s teams up with baseball MVP Christian Yelich

Pro baseball star Christian Yelich is now part of the Leinenkugel’s team.

The beer brand kicked off the partnership Friday, introducing the Milwaukee Brewers slugger as its newest brand ambassador during a virtual happy hour on Instagram Live.

Yelich and Leinenkugel’s President Dick Leinenkugel joined more than 1,000 fans to talk about baseball, beer and Yelich's daily routine while staying at home.

“As a Wisconsin brand, to be able to align with one of the premiere players in the league, who also plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, is amazing,” says Leinenkugel, a noted baseball enthusiast. “It strengthens our relationship with fans in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest.”

Yelich, the 2018 National League MVP whose 2019 season was cut short due to an injury, still managed to lead the league in batting average, slugging and on-base percentage. In March, he signed a long-term contract with the Brewers that will keep him in Milwaukee until 2030, and has planted roots in Wisconsin.

During the happy hour, fans asked Yelich questions about how he’s staying in shape, his new mustache and why he loves playing in Milwaukee.

“I like the fanbase,” he said, while sipping a Leienkugel’s Summer Shandy. “My first two years as a Brewer were amazing, (and) the atmosphere at Miller Park is great. It’s awesome going to the stadium knowing you’re going to play in front of 40,000 fans every night.”

The partnership between Yelich and the 153-year-old beer brand extends an existing relationship; Leinenkugel’s recently donated $10,000 to Yelich’s efforts providing meals to health care workers in southern Wisconsin.

It also sends a strong sales message, says Dan Idstein, Molson Coors’ general manager for Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. “It showcases our commitment and focus on our home market, especially to distributors and retailers."

The tie-up comes as Leinenkugel’s gathers momentum around its new beer-meets-seltzer beverage, Spritzen, which it sees as pioneering a new segment in the beer space. The 4.2% alcohol-by-volume beer checks in at 93 calories, 2.2 grams of carbohydrates, no sugar and nothing artificial. It comes in three flavors: Grapefruit, Pineapple Strawberry and Raspberry Lemon.

Leinenkugel said the partnership with Yelich comes at a time when Americans are craving sports, pointing to the record viewership for last month’s pro football draft.

With baseball on hiatus for the foreseeable future, Yelich’s work with the brand will begin digitally, but Leinenkugel says the slugger will star in point-of-sale and paid media campaigns, as well as participating in social media events.

“Eventually we want to get him up to the brewery in Chippewa Falls to meet our employees and be at the Leinie Lodge,” Leinenkugel says.

For now, though, that means working with the beer brand digitally, including Friday’s happy hour, an extension of the “Leinie Fridays” virtual events broadcast over social media that Dick Leinenkugel hosts with family members.

“The family connection has always been important to the brands, and has that special connection with our drinkers,” he says. “It was a natural extension for us when everyone was starting to shelter in place – we wanted to connect with our fans.”