Change of tack for Heineken as non-alcohol brand affiliated with Europa League
By Simon Ward
Heineken, the Dutch beer brewer that is a major backer of international sport, is revising its sponsorship of the Uefa Europa League, the secondary European club competition, to promote non-alcohol brand Heineken 0.0%.
The change of focus from more established brand Amstel comes into effect for the final stages of this season’s Europa League, which resumes this week after a five-month break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
It also forms part of Heineken’s extended partnership with the European club competitions, announced late last year and running to the end of the 2023-24 season, including the new third-tier Europa Conference League, and is “the largest ever single sponsorship deal involving a non-alcoholic beer brand,” the company said today,
Heineken has been a sponsor of the Uefa Champions League since 1994, and in 2015 took on the Europa League rights, which it has leveraged through the Amstel brand.
However, with the company looking to promote its non-alcohol product, which is now available in 58 countries worldwide, including 34 in Europe, and connect with a wider audience, it has amended the sponsorship strategy.
Heineken has pointed out that the Europa League generates viewership of 550 million people across all programming, an average of 37 million viewers per matchday.
The 2019-20 competition gets back under way this Wednesday and Thursday with the deciding legs of unfinished round-of-16 ties. It will conclude with a special ‘final eight’, with ties played over single legs in Germany, including the final in Cologne on 21 August.
As with the Champions League, which is being resolved with a similar format in Lisbon, all matches will be played behind closed doors.
The sponsorship rights acquired by Heineken include LED perimeter board exposure, digital rights, team greeter, match screenings and ticket giveaways, which will be exploited via the Heineken 0.0% brand campaign, ‘Now You Can’.
The Heineken renewal, signed in November 2019, covers the Champions League, Europa League, the Europa Conference League starting in 2021, and the Super Cup, the annual contest between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League.
At the same time, the company was named as an official partner of the 2020 European Championships, to be held in 12 European cities, but now postponed until next year as a result of the pandemic.
Danish brand Carlsberg was the beer sponsor of the European Championships from 1988 to 2016.
Hans Erik Tuijt, the global sponsorship director of Heineken, said today: “Heineken 0.0% has seen incredibly strong growth over the past few years, so we're delighted to announce its first major sponsorship at a time when football is available to watch almost every day of the week. We feel it’s crucial to encourage responsible drinking and give consumers a choice.”
Guy-Laurent Epstein, the director of marketing at Uefa Events SA, added: “We are pleased to welcome Heineken 0.0% as the new official beer sponsor of the Uefa Europa League. This move represents the start of another great chapter of the longstanding relationship, between Heineken and Uefa.
"This exciting new sponsorship will begin immediately featuring at UEFA Europa League matches for the rest of the season. With the introduction of the Uefa Europa Conference League starting in 2021/22 season and Heineken’s commitment already confirmed for the next four years, we look forward to helping Heineken 0.0% establish its position within European club football, and as the biggest non-alcoholic beer sponsorship of its kind.”
Outside soccer, the company’s major deals include the title sponsorship of European club rugby union’s Heineken Champions Cup and global partnership with Formula 1, through which it has conducted the 'When You Drive, Never Drink' campaign.