Ranchera icon Vicente Fernandez will be the new face of Budweiser in the U.S. for the next three years, in a deal that includes tour support and a national Spanish-language advertising campaign, Billboard.biz has learned.

Budweiser will be the presenting sponsor of Fernandez’ U.S. tours for the next three years, with his next trek of 24 dates beginning July 16 at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, Calif., near San Diego.

Fernandez, a singer known for his booming voice and elaborate mariachi accompaniment on his tours, had the top-grossing Latin tour of 2009 with a gross of $17.4 million over 25 dates, according to Billboard Boxscore.

The three-year sponsorship includes a national TV, print, outdoor, radio and point-of-sale campaign for Budweiser featuring Fernandez; TV spots featuring the artist and his classic song, “El Rey,” will begin airing this weekend during Univision’s World Cup matches. The campaign also includes a sweepstakes by which fans can win concert tickets, autographed CDs and meet-and-greets with the normally reclusive artist.

Fernandez’ tours are produced by Live Nation and the artist’s team, Hauser Promotions. Cardenas Marketing Network facilitated the signing of the direct deal between Anheuser-Busch and Fernandez, and CMN will provide all the local activations for Budweiser, such as VIP receptions and meet-and-greets, according to Eduardo Pereda, senior director of multi-cultural marketing for Anheuser-Busch.

The King of Beers and the king of ranchera music were a natural fit, says Pereda. Budweiser’s image is “genuine, it’s authentic, it’s tradition. That’s what Budweiser is and that’s what Vicente is.”

While the beer company has sponsored other artists such as Juanes with commercials and tour support, Pereda says the duration of the comprehensive Fernandez campaign may be unique for the company with a Latin artist.

The deal is also noteworthy for the participation of Fernandez, who has
endorsed Cacique dairy products for years but is not generally associated with consumer brands.

A key component of the Budweiser-Fernandez partnership is a donation at each concert venue to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, to which Anheuser-Busch has donated $23 million since 1982. The program will donate $100,000 for each of the next three years of Fernandez' tour.

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