Drinks firms continue support for athletes and events in Scotland
FROM Irn-Bru’s sponsorship of 1900s strongmen Donald Dinnie and Alexander Munro, to Moët Hennessy’s support of three-time Formula One world champion Jackie Stewart in the 1960s and ’70s, there is a history of drinks industry support for Scottish sports stars and events.
Scottish football has a long history with drinks brands, with past old firm sponsors including Tennent’s Lager, McEwan’s and Carling.
Today, Carling sponsors Scotland’s international side, while the old firm shirts are sponsored by C&C Group cider brands Blackthorn and Magners.
Scottish Rugby is no stranger to the drinks industry either, with current sponsors including The Famous Grouse, Guinness and Caledonia Best; while the Scottish Golf Union has enjoyed long-running support from Belhaven.
And this year’s schedule of major sporting events – covering fields as diverse as golf, horse racing and curling – could be big news for brands looking to reach out to new consumers.
Major drinks and sport tie-ups this year will include Johnnie Walker’s support of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
On the ice, rum brand OVD has paired up with The Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), the governing body for the sport in Scotland, signing a sponsorship deal for its Scottish Curling Senior Championships.
OVD will become the headline sponsor for Scottish Curling Seniors in 2015.
Stuart Mclean, marketing officer for the RCCC, said the deal was “great news” for Scottish curling at a time when the sport is celebrating the success of the British teams that won medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Paul Curry, marketing manager for OVD, said the brand has had long-standing ties to Scottish sport through its parent firm, William Grant & Sons.
“Both OVD and curling have a rich heritage and a strong Scottish following so they seem a natural fit,” said Curry.
At the races, East Lothian’s Musselburgh Racecourse has teamed up with Edinburgh Gin.
Under the agreement the gin brand, part of the Spencerfield Spirit Company portfolio, is providing prizes for each winning trainer at Musselburgh through to the end of the 2015 jump season and will also be the official sponsor of the Jockey and Trainer Championships for both seasons.
Musselburgh Racecourse will also sell Edinburgh Gin at the course’s bars as part of the agreement and an Edinburgh Gin pop-up bar will serve gin and tonics and gin cocktails on Stobo Castle Ladies Day, The Edinburgh Cup Race Day and at the two summer evening meetings.
Alex Nicol, managing director of Spencerfield Spirit Company, drew parallels between the resurgence of the gin category and “Musselburgh’s rebirth as one of the UK’s leading racecourses”.
Spencerfield isn’t the only drinks company to market itself through horse racing.
OVD and curling have a rich heritage and a strong Scottish following so they seem a natural fit.
Halewood International recently signed a significant sponsorship deal with Aintree Racecourse in a deal that has seen the famous Grand National renamed The Crabbie’s Grand National.
Peter Eaton Senior, deputy chairman of Halewood International, said everyone at the firm was “delighted to be part of the excitement, the drama and the thrill of the world’s greatest steeplechase”.
John Baker, regional director for The Jockey Club in the North West, the parent company of Aintree, said the group intended to “create a campaign which raises the bar to attract a broader reaching audience to what is one of the greatest sporting events in the world”.
It’s not just the professionals that receive backing from drinks brands.
Amateur Scottish athletes will get their share of support this weekend (June 14-15) at the Tough Mudder event in Dalkeith Country Park.
This year’s event, a ten mile military-style obstacle course, has support from both Ginger Grouse and bottled water brand Volvic.
Headline sponsor Ginger Grouse, which is also the official spirit of Scottish Rugby, will be running the main bar at the event as well as providing one of the course obstacles.
Peter Sandstrom, marketing director at Maxxium UK, which distributes Ginger Grouse, said Tough Mudder “is set around core values both on the course and in everyday life, inspiring competitors to push the boundaries as the ultimate adventure with friends, having fun along the way”.
“Ginger Grouse shares the same spirit of adventure,” said Sandstrom. “It’s a natural fit.”
Al Strang of Volvic said that for the water brand, the partnership with Tough Mudder “is the perfect platform to engage with our core audience”.