Celebrating the longest partnership in Premier League history…probably
Day one of the International Sports Convention welcomed Carlsberg’s Global Sponsorship Director, Louise Bach, to the main stage for a look back on the beer brand’s 30-year association with Liverpool FC, the longest of its kind in the amongst Premier League clubs.
Carlsberg started sponsoring sport with the Danish national team in 1978 and has been attempting to overcome consumer cynicism ever since using sport as a key vehicle.
Bach outlined how for Carlsberg brand saliency and recognition is a key target: “It’s all about the magic moments, big and small. Putting the brand at heart of the moment, subconsciously knowing that fans don’t really care if we are there or not.”
Carlsberg’s approach to sponsorship has three key focuses – loyalty, passion and affinity – and for Bach sport offers an unrivalled opportunity to meet these objectives.
“Fans will never change their football team, so loyalty is a given. Passion is inherent in sport whether at the grassroots level or elite – the reactions to success and failure are equally powerful. And by being at the heart of the action we are able to generate incredible affinity with fans who are our key consumers.”
The Danish beer brand was founded by J.C. Jacobsen in 1847, rooted in a philosophy of constant improvement. The partnership with Liverpool is rooted in this shared value, of striving to be the best you can be. This has become a clear focus of more recent activations between the partners.
Bach admitted: “Carlsberg and Liverpool haven’t always got their activations right and a review that coincided with the 25-year anniversary of the partnership identified the need for more authenticity in the partnership with credible activation.”
For that anniversary Carlsberg created a special beer using hops that have been cultivated using pictures and sounds from Liverpool matches, and soil from Anfield, by scientists at the Carlsberg Research Laboratory. They created 50,000 bottles and sent them to supporter’s clubs and fans around the world.
“We knew we had done something right as we’ve managed to talk about hops and people were starting to associate the beer directly to Liverpool,” said Bach.
For Carlsberg, the measurements of success have changed over the years, but the end goal is to “sell beer and ensure our brand is in hand no matter where you are.”
More recently Bach’s team look to social media for signals of success as that provides direct feedback from the fans, their target group.
“We believe great creativity drives sales, but at the end of the day fans buy the product. One goal of ours now is to receive comments on social media from fans of a rival team to say something you did was quite cool. That’s whe you know your campaigns and ideas are really working.”
Bach concluded that a key priority for the next phase of Carlsberg’s partnership with Liverpool is a greater focus on the women’s game.
“We are still on a journey and our DNA means we are always looking to improve. We’ve been late to the game with Women’s football. We are trying to support them, and this is our focus for the next five years. And not because this is the right thing to do but because it’s the right thing for us to do. This needs to be accelerated and that our aim moving forwards, to participate at the same level as we do in the men’s game.”