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Top 10 sporting drinks partnerships of 2023

Brands are chomping at the bit to become official drinks partners for sporting events. Here are some of the best brand hook-ups so far in 2023.

From cricket and motorsports to football, tennis and golf, sporting tournaments are racking up an enormous number of viewers this year, and drinks brands want a piece of the action.

A record number of fans tuned in to watch England take on Spain during the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 last week, with a peak audience of 14.4 million viewers across combined BBC and ITV coverage of the game.

Eclipsing those numbers are the estimated 113 million viewers who watched the Philadelphia Eagles face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl LVII on 12 Feb 2023, according to data from Nielsen; good news for E&J Gallo which sponsored the event with its Barefoot Wines.

Pernod Ricard UK announced last year that it would be making its biggest ever investment in the run-up to Christmas as a result of the festivities coinciding with the men’s football World Cup, and would be “putting more money behind our brands than we have ever done previously,” according to Chris Shead, off-trade channel director.

With in-stadium signage, digital campaigns and specialist brand bars in fan areas, becoming the official drinks sponsor of a sporting event is a sure fire way of getting your products in front of a wider audience, or introducing them to the idea of enjoying a brand in a setting or scenario that consumers might not necessarily have considered.

Below are some of the best partnership deals to have been signed in 2023 between drinks companies and sports events.

Jacob’s Creek / FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

The Australian wine brand inked a deal to have its wines available in stadiums throughout the 32-team football tournament, which kicked off on 20 July and saw Spain take home the trophy following a game against finalist England. Jacob Creek wines were also poured at FIFA Fan Festivals across nine host cities in Australia and New Zealand.

Eric Thomson, global marketing director for Pernod Ricard which owns Jacob’s Creek, said the winemakers couldn’t wait to be “part of the passion and excitement” surrounding the tournament. “We knew we had to be the first wine to team up with the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” he added.

Retailers in the two countries supported the Jacob’s Creek partnership through competitions, hospitality experiences and gifting opportunities throughout the World Cup, while Jacob’s Creek’s winery in the Barossa Valley also hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour in July.

“Jacob’s Creek joins a group of sponsors who share our mission to hold the best FIFA Women’s World Cup ever in Australia and New Zealand this year, and we can’t wait to bring many of their ideas and initiatives to life to engage even more people with the tournament,” said FIFA secretary general, Fatma Samoura.

Australia ended up taking fourth place in the World Cup, its best ever result for the country’s team in a World Cup tournament.

Hattingley Valley / Porsche Cars GB

Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley has signed a two-year agreement with Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Porsche Sprint Challenge GB, which will see its sparkling wines sprayed by drivers during podium ceremonies.

Still and sparkling wines from the English producer will also be offered as part of the hospitality in the paddock across race weekends throughout 2023 and 2024, and Hattingley Valley will also provide wines for the Porsche Night of Motorsport awards ceremony that takes place at the end of each racing season.

Lee Wilford, marketing director for Porsche Cars Great Britain, described Hattingley Valley as “a British business that has rapidly established itself through a clear vision”, and said this was “something we at Porsche GB can identify with, making this partnership especially attractive”.

Estrella Galicia 0.0% / MotoGP

The alcohol-free Spanish beer brand has signed a multi-year official partnership with the world’s biggest motorcycle World Championship, MotoGP. Estrella Galicia has “supported and nurtured some of the finest talent in MotoGP since 2011″, according to a spokesperson for the brand, with a front-row seat to 12 World Championships and more than 100 Grand Prix wins through its sponsorship deal.

The new agreement, announced in August 2023, will see Estrella Galicia 0.0% increase its visibility and presence, with trackside advertising, as well as an “all-encompassing digital package”.

The MotoGP paddock will include a dedicated space for sharing the background, history, and culture of the brewery, where visitors can “experience Galician beer culture first-hand”. 

Marchesi Antinori / Ryder Cup

Tuscan wine producer Marchesi Antinori pipped several leading Italian wine labels to the post during a six-month selection process to become the Official Wine Supplier for the 2023 Ryder Cup, which takes place this year in Rome.

Three Antinori wines – Villa Antinori Rosso Toscana IGT, Villa Antinori Bianco Toscana IGT and Calafuria Rosato Salento IGT will be served at Ryder Cup tournament games when “hundreds of thousands of fans will descend on Marco Simone”. A busy schedule of sponsorship and media engagements over the next two years will ensure maximum visibility for the wine brand.

“Being a golfer myself, it’s a source of great pride for me and my family to partner with the Ryder Cup for this very important sporting event,” said Piero Antinori, honorary president of Marchesi Antinori.

“Being chosen to accompany the Ryder Cup along this journey with Villa Antinori, our most historical wine and a symbol of Tuscany and quality, perfectly pairs with the great history and significance of this event. Created just one year apart, both Villa Antinori and the Ryder Cup have been sharing the same values and excellence for almost 100 years.”

Bushmills Irish Whiskey / PGA golf

Bushmills has struck a four-year deal with the PGA to become the official whiskey of the PGA Tour. As part of the partnership, golf pro Joel Dahmen has also transformed himself into the tournament’s “Whiskey Caddie”, with his own signature cocktail – a mix of 10-year-old single malt whiskey, grapefruit soda and pineapple – available at PGA Tour stops across the country.

Golf fans can also get a free drink by purchasing a Bushmills at the bar, and uploading a photo of their receipt to the Bushmills website to claim US$10 back. Bushmills will be serving up Irish coffees and a range of its aged single malts from an onsite whiskey bar.

According to Lander Otegui, senior vice president, marketing at Proximo Spirits, which owns Bushmills, the distilling team is “excited to give thousands of PGA Tour fans a taste of our 400-year-old liquid history. As an Official Marketing Partner for the next four years, Bushmills will be able to share our award-winning single malts and beloved Irish coffees on the course with a new dedicated fan base.”

Maestro Doble Tequila / US Open

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has announced Maestro Dobel as the US Open’s first-ever Official Tequila. The deal, beginning with this year’s event (taking place from 28 August to 10 September), will see the agave-based spirit brand promoted via on-court signage and cocktails served in the tournament’s bars and from mobile carts across the grounds.

Maestro Dobel founder Juan Dobel, said: “As the number one ultra-premium Tequila in Mexico and one of the fastest-growing globally, we are excited to share our range of extraordinary Tequilas with tennis fans in New York, and continue the acceleration of the Tequila category with an international audience.”

Maestro Dobel is already the Official Tequila of a number of other tennis tournaments in the US, including the Miami Open, BNP Paribas Open (in California), and the Western & Southern Open (in Ohio).

Forged Irish Stout / Matchroom Boxing

MMA champion Conor McGregor secured partnership deals with leading boxing promoter Matchroom to serve his Forged Irish Stout at major boxing fixtures this year. Bouts included Anthony Joshua Vs Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena in August 2023, and Katie Taylor’s long-awaited homecoming fight at 3Arena in Dublin in May.

Ring girls decked out in Forged Irish Stout apparel, as well as signage throughout the stadiums, catapulted the stout brand into consumer awareness, while the Irishman’s drink was also served behind the bar at both arenas, which hold 20,000 and 8,000 fans respectively.

Following AJ’s victory in London, McGregor jumped into the ring to celebrate, holding a glass of his stout up to the champ’s lips for him to take a swig. Since the events, Forged Irish Stout has secured a permanent listing at Asda.

Graham’s Port / Adidas Padel Tennis

The Symington’s owned Port brand became the official drinks partner for Adidas’ Home of Padel (HOP), providing liquid refreshment for 20 padel tennis events across the summer, including the London Open, which took place on 2-6 August.

Port cocktails, made using Graham’s Blend Nº5 White Port and Blend Nº12 Ruby Port, which are created specifically for mixing, were served up to the sport’s growing legion of fans.

At the London event, one of the courts was even named the Graham’s Port Court with deck chairs and parasols allowing spectators to relax with a cocktail during matches.

Players also featured the Graham’s logo on their Adidas HOP shirts.

Viñalba / Bath Rugby

In July, Argentine wine brand Viñalba became the first ever Official Wine Partner of premiership rugby club Bath, signing an initial two year sponsorship deal for the 2023/2024 season and beyond.

Viñalba wines will be available at Bath Rugby’s home venue ‘The Rec’ on matchdays, with the wine brand’s logo emblazoned across the back of all first team player’s shirts. Viñalba signage will be visible on advertising boards pitch side and in official match day programmes.

The winery has also released a co-branded bottle of Malbec with the rugby club for supporters to buy.

Herve Joyaux Fabre, owner and head winemaker of Viñalba, said: ‘We’re delighted to become the first official wine partner of such an iconic club as Bath Rugby. Their heritage, dedicated fan base, love for their supporters and their plans for the future completely align with what we are trying to achieve with Viñalba.’

The Argentine wine, imported by Buckingham Schenk, launched in the UK market in 2007 and is now the sixth largest Argentine wine exporter to the UK.

Laithwaites / England Cricket

UK wine merchant Laithwaites announced a multi-year partnership with The England and Wales Cricket Board in June, and revealed it would also co-sponsor the cricket coverage on Sky Sports, just in time for the Ashes Series.

The partnership kicked off with an integrated digital campaign using Sky’s AdVance technology, while Laithwaites wines were offered at international matches throughout the summer, during which Laithwaites brand activations also took place at cricket grounds.

As part of the partnership, Laithwaites launched new marketing campaign ‘Vintage Moments’, celebrating memorable moments in cricket.

“What a partnership!” said James Morrison, head of brand at Laithwaites. “Absolutely delighted to be joining forces with England Cricket and Sky Sports. At such an exciting time for England Cricket, it’s a perfect time to reach out and quench the thirst of wine lovers across the country.”

Russell James, England Cricket Board’s sales and marketing director, added: “Laithwaites has a reputation for delivering exceptional quality wines and we are excited to see the partnership help enhance the overall experience for our fans and supporters.”

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