A report by Marty Swant for Forbes.
After 22 seasons of baseball, superstar shortstop and third baseman Alex Rodriguez is taking a swing at something new: marketing beer.
The former New York Yankee, Texas Ranger and Seattle Mariner is the new chairman and co-owner of Presidente, the Dominican beer brand now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but to Rodriguez—the son of Dominican immigrants—the beer brand has an emotional connection. In an exclusive interview with Forbes, he said he feels “like it’s family”—adding that unless someone is from the Dominican Republic or grew up with it, “it’s hard to explain to others.”
“Presidente is one of the most prestigious brands in the entire country,” he said. “It’s what PepsiCo means to America. It’s synonymous with our country, synonymous with our flag. It’s unfortunate my father is not still here to watch this, but I think that he would be more proud of this partnership than my home runs.”
So what does this partnership entail? Details are still scant. However, according to Rodriguez, part of the reason the beer hasn’t caught on as much in the U.S. is that it all about the temperature that it’s served. (For him, it has to be “very, very cold” and “frothy white.”)
“The consumer will get very, very offended if it’s not at least that cold,” he said.
Presidente—first released by Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s—was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2012 for $1.2 billion. Ricardo Marques, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Group VP of Marketing for Core & Value Brands, said Presidente has been having growth in the “single-digits.” However, he said the partnership with Rodriguez will be “with us every day looking to grow the Presidente brand.”
“He’s so passionate about the brand and I assure you that he knows this brand better than I do,” Marques said. “It’s part of his culture and where he comes from so what we’re really looking for his vision of where he thinks this brand should go.”
While this is the first beer brand Rodriguez has worked with, it’s not the first brand he’s worked with. Others in the past include Pepsi, Planters peanuts and the coconut water Vita Coco.
“I don’t look at this from an investment or a marketing opportunity,” he said. “I look at this as a way to story-tell and brag about one of the best brands.”
So what comes next? Until now, the focus for the brand has been on East Coast cities with large Dominican populations such as New York and Miami but now the plan is to have a national strategy in place by opening day of the next baseball season—starting with a big activation at Yankee Stadium. Rodriguez said he might recruit some of his fellow Presidente-drinking, baseball-playing friends to help out.
“It’s the ripple affect,” Rodriguez said. “The hundreds of Dominican major league players and Latin American players that have played in this country, the first thing they do after a game is have a Presidente.”