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Heineken solves Uefa’s beer category puzzle, signs Champions League, Euro 2020 double

(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Dutch beer brand Heineken has extended its Uefa Champions League sponsorship, and, in a separate deal, signed as the Official Beer Partner of Euro 2020, ending Uefa’s long search for a beer brand to sponsor the national team tournament.

It is no surprise that Heineken has extended its Champions League partnership for another three seasons, from 2021-22 to 2023-24.  The brewer’s relationship with competition is already well-established, stretching back over 25 years.

Read this: Heineken pays record fee for Uefa club competition rights

The Euro 2020 announcement was less expected because Uefa was uncertain whether it would sell its beer category rights as a single global partnership, as under former long-term partner Carlsberg, or as market-by-market rights in the 12 host countries.

SportBusiness understands that Uefa initially pitched the beer category as a global deal to Heineken and rival beer group AB InBev at about €40m ($44m) to €50m per cycle.

The beer companies resisted the offer, in part, because of the diffuse nature of the beer markets in the Euro 2020 host countries. The German market, for example, is home to a very different set of beer brands than Spain.

As a result, Uefa put out a beer tender with three options: universal rights, single market rights, or any combination of market rights. It is believed that the global offer for one universal deal was Uefa’s preferred choice in terms of maximising price.

Nevertheless, Guy-Laurent Epstein, Uefa’s marketing director, told SportBusiness Sponsorship last year that the market-by-market option could prove attractive to beer brands because some Euro 2020 host markets like Ireland, the UK, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Spain and Hungary, are also well-known for producing and consuming beer in high volume.

He suggested: “It could be very nice for fans to look at this, and enjoy a beer tour around Europe.”

Read this: FedEx clinches Global Partner slot on road to Euros

The new Euro 2020 deal gives Heineken exclusive pouring rights at all stadiums, fan zones and fan villages, as well as LED pitch boarding exposure, digital rights, Man of the Match presentations, match screenings and ticket giveaways.

The brand will also activate global TV and digital integrated marketing campaigns, using its global football ambassador, the former France national team star Thierry Henry.

Heineken’s renewed three-season agreement with the Champions League as a Uefa club competitions partner will include sponsorship rights for the Uefa Super Cup.

The new deal also involves Heineken-owned beer brand Amstel become a partner of the Europa Conference League, Uefa’s new third-tier club competition that will launch in 2021-22, as well as continuing Amstel’s sponsorship of the Europa League.

Epstein said: “We know the value Heineken brings through their outstanding engagement with fans of the Uefa Champions League across the globe and we are delighted to extend this partnership for another three seasons. We are also extremely excited as we will be able to call on their experience and innovative marketing campaigns in the build-up to and during Uefa Euro 2020.”

Read this: Uefa launches Euro 2020 national sponsor search

Heineken is one of the Champions League’s longest-serving sponsors. Between 1994 and 2005 it supported the competition through the Amstel brand before its flagship Heineken product took over.

In September, the Team Marketing agency launched the sales process for the sponsorship rights to Uefa club competitions for the new cycle, kicking off with the beer category. Interested parties were handed a deadline of October 2 to lodge their offers.

Euro 2020 takes place from June 12 to July 12, 2020. For the first time the tournament will be hosted across twelve European cities: Amsterdam, Baku, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, London, Munich, Rome and St Petersburg.

The tournament’s multi-host country format was chosen as a one-off to celebrate the event’s 60th anniversary.