Anheuser-Busch Scoring With Women's Sports

Giant brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. is exploring sponsorship possibilities with the Women's Tennis Assn. (WTA) as the company continues to find opportunities in women's sports advertising, the chief of the company's sports group says. The company also recently renewed its Women's National Basketball Assn. sponsorship, but stipulated the league show improvement in TV ratings next season. "Clearly, there is something happening here," says Tony Ponturo, vice president of media and sports marketing at Anheuser-Busch, about the surge in popularity of women's sports teams and leagues. "Women's sports are appealing to both males and females, and are bringing in younger people." St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch is the premier sports marketing company. Ponturo estimated the company spends about $300 million each year on sports, including advertising in all media and at the grassroots level, such as local team sponsorships. The WTA is currently seeking a title sponsor for its tennis tour, having gone without one for almost a year. While declining to say if Anheuser-Busch is interested in that role, Ponturo did say he was happy with the exposure the company got as sponsor at a recent WTA Tour event. Anheuser-Busch sponsored the Pilot Pen Championships in New Haven, Conn., at the end of August, the first advertising the company has done at a WTA Tour event in more than a decade. Ponturo says he was pleased with both the promotion of the company's Michelob Light brand at the venue and with advertising spots on CBS.

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