Brewer Scottish Courage is to sponsor the Grand National horse race with its beer brand John Smith’s in a £2m-a-year deal.
John Smith’s will take over from Martell Cognac, which withdrew from its 11-year sponsorship of the Grand National last year (MW November 6, 2003). The deal is expected to last for three years.
Scottish Courage saw off competition from banking giant HSBC – which was an early favourite for the deal – and online betting exchange Betfair. Industry sources say HSBC was slow to make a final offer for the race, while there were concerns that Betfair would annoy rival bookmakers at the event.
An insider adds that John Smith’s is popular among horse-racing fans. The beer brand already sponsors a number of smaller races during the horse- racing calendar, but this deal will provide a flagship event to focus marketing activities. A number of other companies have also been linked with the deal in the past few weeks, including online betting website 888.com, rival brewer Diageo and Halewood International, whose proprietor John Halewood owns last year’s Grand National winner Amberleigh House.
The Grand National at Aintree is one of the most popular racing events of the season. The race also has a considerable international audience, although John Smith’s is not seen as a global brand.