Why Heineken is moving away from its ‘one size fits all’ sponsorship approach

Heineken’s Amstel brand is looking to reach local and regional audiences in Europe through its sponsorship of the UEFA Europa League.

WARSAW, POLAND – MAY 27: During the UEFA Europa League Final between FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Sevilla FC at National Stadium on May 26, 2015 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Christopher Lee – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jose Antonio Reyes;Beto

Amstel, which previously sponsored the League from 1994 to 2005, is looking to “build the brand” over the eight month Europa League season, which it claims sees an audience of over 600 million people mainly in Europe.

The deal is yet another move to cement the company’s role as a sponsor of major global events.

Its biggest sponsorship deals include the UEFA Champions League, which it claims is watched by over 4.2 billion people around the world, as well as the upcoming Rugby World Cup, which will receive 50% of the Heineken masterbrand’s UK budget.

The company partly credited a 2% increase in revenue during the first half of 2015 to a successful UEFA Champions League campaign, announcing plans to build on the growth in the second half of the year through a partnership with the upcoming James Bond film and its 20th year of sponsoring the Rugby World Cup.

Hans Erik Tuijt, global director of Heineken sponsorship, told Marketing Week: “We have different objectives for different sponsorships at Heineken.”

He added that rugby offers a more “affluent and younger” audience for the Heineken brand while the Europa League is offers a more “national” scale for Amstel.

“Amstel has a long history in football and this is the perfect opportunity to build the brand,” he said. “You need to make sure you connect with the right audience.”

With both Champions League and the Rugby World Cup Heineken has launched major TV ads and has talked up the importance of building “experiences” for fans.

The beer brand’s Champion the Match campaign allowed fans to tweet at famous football players during Champions League matches.

For rugby, Heineken is launching its Heineken Rugby Studio at Twickenham which will see the likes of former England captain Will Carling host preview and review shows during eight World Cup games, giving consumers the chance to live tweet at the rugby “legends” hosting the show.

While social and digital seem to be a focus for the brewer, Tuijt said Amstel wants to make its Europa League campaigns “more local and regional”.

“The Amstel brand has a lot of history in being European and has strongholds in different markets,” he said, adding that in countries like Poland and Portugal where the Amstel brand doesn’t exist Heineken will use local brands to activate the sponsorship.

“As it’s positioned locally we will develop sponsorships to target local audiences,” he said. “We won’t have one campaign – we don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach.”