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Smirnoff Vodka owner Diageo has signed a multiyear deal with the NFL to become the league's first spirits sponsor.

While the National Football League has long had relationships with beer brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev's Bud Light, it has been slower to embrace spirits. Until 2017, distillers couldn't even advertise during games. An advertising campaign on drinking responsibly from Diageo's Crown Royal whisky was the first spirits commercial to air during an NFL game after the ban was lifted.

"What they've done from a responsibility standpoint to us, really stood head and shoulders above other spirit companies in the marketplace," said Nana-Yaw Asamoah, vice president of business development and sponsorship for the NFL. "And that goes for their marketing standards, which hold themselves to a higher standard than the rest of the market, and kind of used it to inform our policies as we looked to advertising restrictions and opening up spirits in-game advertising in 2017."

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