Official African Beer of FC Barcelona
Harare – The publicity machinery behind the brand Castle Lager boasts of having the best beer in the world and, last week, they went into bed with the football club many believe is the best on the globe.
From now onwards, at least for the next three years, Castle Lager will be known as the official African Beer of FC Barcelona.
Castle Lager is not a new player to football.
It has been walking with the game in Africa for about 85 years and the brand is the official sponsor of the Zimbabwe Premiership, has vast interest in South African football and is involved in the regional COSAFA Castle Cup.
“Today saw the beginning of a historic partnership formed between Africa’s premier lager, Castle Lager, and one of the world’s most popular football clubs FC Barcelona, when a three-year partnership was signed announcing Castle Lager the Official African Beer of FC Barcelona,” SABMiller, the brewers of Castle Lager, announced in a statement.
“The partnership, signed at the renowned home of FC Barcelona, Camp Nou, positions Castle Lager as the official beer brand for any activity that FC Barcelona engages in across key markets on the African continent.
“The agreement will be exclusive to Castle Lager in most African regions, except for certain select countries where Castle Milk Stout will be the Official African Stout of FC Barcelona.”
For an African brand, to partner a club like Barcelona, is historic and opens a whole new frontier for the brewer and its flagship beer brand on the continent.
“We are delighted about signing this partnership with a world renowned brand such as Castle Lager and Castle Milk Stout,” Javier Faus, the Barcelona vice-president of the Economic and Strategic wing said.
“We identify with Castle Lager, which, similar to our club, holds more than 100 years of history and great tradition. We also share with them our passion for football and supporters in a very important market such as Africa.”
SABMiller are, obviously, delighted in becoming the first African company to go into bed with the Catalan giants.
It’s no easy task to break into the Barcelona camp if you are a commercial entity. It took 113 years for Barcelona to accept a commercial partner, to advertise on their shirt, in exchange of cash and that will start at the beginning of the new season when Qatar Airways is carried on the jerseys of Barca for a cool US$45 million a season. Last year, Barcelona accepted a US$180 million, five-year deal, to wear the Qatar Foundation logo and name on the front of their shirts, in line with the club’s policy to only carry the names of either charities or foundations.
But that will change from the beginning of this season when Qatar Airways, part of the Qatar Sports Investment that owns the Qatar Foundation, is displayed on the front part of the Barca jerseys in the club’s first deal with a commercial sponsor.
No wonder why, after passing all those hurdles, the people at SABMiller are happy that they have staged a coup.
“This is the first time that FC Barcelona has signed a partnership agreement with an African based company, which will open the door for FC Barcelona fans in select countries across the continent to have easier access to their favourite club, merchandise, memorabilia and the chance to win a trip to travel to Barcelona to visit the club,” David Carruthers, the SABMiller marketing director, said.
“The fact that FC Barcelona has decided to partner with Africa’s premier beer brand will quickly boost the team’s popularity on the continent and allow it and its payers to reach geographies not previously considered,”
Analysts point to seven years ago, when MTN became the first African company to be granted global sponsorship status of a FIFA World Cup when they poured US$65 million into the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa, as the time when firms from this continent began to flex their muscles and adopt an aggressive approach.
That sponsorship gave MTN exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East as well as global marketing rights.
FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, described their sponsorship deal with an African company as an historic partnership.
“It is historical that MTN is the first African company to be a global sponsor of the FIFA World Cup and I want to commend MTN on this sponsorship,” Blatter said.
Last year, English Premiership side, Sunderland, struck a shirt deal, worth £20 million a year, which beamed the message ‘Invest in Africa’ on the front part of their jerseys.
With the English Premiership reported to have a global audience of about five billion people, the Sunderland deal provided Africa with its biggest advertising window, for European and Asian investors.
“Invest In Africa has forged an innovative partnership with Sunderland FC to promote awareness to a huge global audience of the opportunities and benefits of doing business in Africa,” the English Premiership club proudly said on its official website.
“In a unique sponsorship deal, Sunderland players will display the Invest in Africa logo on their shirts in every game they play in the 2012/13 season. The partnership will also help Sunderland build its fan base and global brand, particularly in Africa where nearly 300 million people watch Premier League matches.
“Invest in Africa is an unprecedented initiative to encourage new business investment – including from Sunderland and the North East – into Africa. Sunderland Football Club prides itself on using its influence wherever it can to strengthen communities and improve lives.
“So the club and Invest in Africa both saw this partnership as a unique opportunity to use the global reach of the Premier League to help spread prosperity across Africa and bring new opportunities to local businesses.”
Sadly, the deal, which many claimed was backed by oil giant Tullow Oil, collapsed when the season ended and Sunderland will not be wearing their ‘Invest In Africa’ jerseys this season.