Michelob Ultra hits the roof over NBA Canada partnership

The National Basketball Association has got some new hops in Canada ahead of its 75th anniversary season. The league announced on Monday that it has signed a new partnership with Labatt Breweries of Canada making the brewer’s low-calorie brand Michelob Ultra the league’s official beer partner.

To mark the new multi-year deal—as well as the league’s return to Canada after a 16-month absence because of the pandemic—Labatt has launched a new campaign called “#GetBuckets” starring Chris Matthews, a private skills coach who has worked with NBA stars including Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard and is known professionally as “Lethal Shooter.”

Created by Anomaly, the campaign’s centrepiece is a video showing Matthews shooting hoops on the roof of Toronto’s Scotia Plaza, 275 metres above street level.

It’s not the first time a Canadian beer brand has taken to the Toronto skyline to promote its association with sports. In 2016, Molson created a half-size NHL rink atop a skyscraper in the city’s financial district as part of its “Anything for hockey” campaign.

As part of the campaign, Michelob has also turned billboards into oversized backboards (complete with a hoop) bearing the message “Live fit. Live fun,” and is inviting Canadians to share their best basket (on any hoop) using the hashtag #GetBuckets and follow and tag @MichelobUltraCA for a chance to win NBA gear.

“Basketball lives at the intersection of athletics, culture and entertainment, and we’re excited to bring our fit and fun spin to basketball fans across the country, beginning with our immersive billboards to backboards programming in select cities,” said Mike Bascom, senior marketing director for Michelob Ultra Canada in a release.

The Canadian announcement is part of a broader partnership between Michelob Ultra parent Anheuser Busch and the NBA, which named the light beer brand its official beer partner in the U.S. at the beginning of the 2020-21 season.

Chris Powell