Beer Packaging Toasts the Trojans of USC

Packaging for a pale ale from Sapporo-Stone Brewing and USC combines brand imagery from both the brewer and the Trojans.

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1, Freelance Writer

May 20, 2024

3 Min Read
USC Trojans beer packaging
Sapporo-Stone Brewing

At a Glance

  • Co-branding partnership makes the most of a Southern California connection.
  • Cans and multipacks feature USC’s signature colors.
  • 16-oz size works well inside the stadium and for tailgating.

Sapporo-Stone Brewing and the University of Southern California (USC) Athletics joined forces to create a craft beer with co-branded packaging that resonates with regional college sports fans.

Stone Fight On! Pale Ale is brewed by Escondido, CA-based Sapporo-Stone Brewing. Graphics on the beer’s cans and multipack carrier feature USC’s colors — cardinal and gold — plus brandmarks and iconography from USC, the USC Trojans, and Sapporo-Stone.

The product launched in August 2023 and is a year-round offering. It’s sold in 16-oz cans and four-packs, with no plans to offer 12-oz cans/bottles or larger multipacks.

Lizzie Younkin, director of communications at Sapporo-Stone Brewing. explains that “16-oz cans work great for stadium settings and long game days, when people don’t want to miss the game because they’re grabbing another beer. We’ll continue to monitor the market, but we were happy with the response to this package type from retailers and fans in 2023.”

A winning partnership.

“USC Athletics approached us,” says Younkin. “They were looking for a beer partner and wanted to pair up with a brewery local to SoCal and with a passionate fan following. USC also has an extremely passionate fan base, and we were honored to come together to create Stone Fight On! Pale Ale.”

The Fight On! package design came together quickly after the deal was made, with the brewery and USC teaming up on the design.

“It was key that we work with the team at USC to create a design that we felt honored both USC and Stone, and we had to do it quickly to launch in time for the college football season,” says Joanna Dawson, art director at Sapporo-Stone Brewing.

“Ultimately, both teams were really drawn to and inspired by the feel of the heritage university brandmarks and the connection they have with USC alumni.

“We also liked the idea of a collage you might see on a dorm-room wall, which led us to showcase a collection of vintage graphics and ignite a sense of nostalgia.

“The vintage graphics include the ‘V for victory’ foam finger; various vintage SC and USC lockups used over the course of the past many decades; [mascot] Traveler the horse, who still appears at all USC home football games,” and a state map outline with a star marking Southern California, home to both USC and Sapporo-Stone Brewing, Dawson says.

In addition, the brewer’s gargoyle brandmark is placed front and center on the beer’s cans and multipacks. “The current SC and Trojan-head brandmarks flank the gargoyle’s chin,” Dawson notes.

Sapporo-Stone-USC-Trojans-Beer-2-2000x1125.png

USC fans drink it up.

Fight On! is distributed throughout Southern California at retail, in bars and restaurants, and at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Galen Center, home of the USC Trojans.

By all measures, the product and packaging are a hit. Fight On! is currently the only pale ale in Sapporo-Stone’s portfolio, so the brand’s enthusiasts are purchasing it, too.

Additionally, “USC fans have been incredibly enthusiastic about this beer. It’s such a natural extension of the USC fan experience, given the strong tailgating culture,” Younkin says. “Also, we’re hearing about fans buying it for their USC alumni friends and family and keeping it stocked at home. Of course, there are some USC rival alum who are less enthusiastic about this collaboration, but you can’t win ‘em all!”

About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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