Heineken uses non-alcoholic beer sponsorship to increase market share amid pandemic

Heineken recently announced a sweeping change in its alcohol marketing by entering into the largest ever single sponsorship deal involving a non-alcoholic beer brand, replacing Amstel as a Uefa Europa League sponsor.

Heineken has been a Uefa partner in one way or another since 1994. Now, it has put down around €10m ($11.7m) a year to associate its non-alcoholic Heinkenen 0.0 alternative with European football.

Heineken 0.0% is now available in 58 markets globally (more than half of those in Europe). The crossover with the Uefa competition offers a supposed cumulative viewership of 550 million people across all live programming and an average 37 million viewers each matchday.

Commenting on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the sponsorship, Hans Erick Tuijt, Heineken’s global sponsorship director, said he observed a surge of health and wellbeing trends accelerated by consumer reactions to coronavirus, adding that it helped drive a 40% sales growth in the 0.0 brand, year on year, particularly in Russia and Europe. That growth, he noted, helped to deliver some of the group’s best results in a decade.

His words: “We’re confident that this category will keep gaining importance in these markets thanks to top innovation on taste.

“We can watch football almost every day right now, so it’s just not always reasonable to enjoy an ice-cold Heineken with every match.”

“We have a bold ambition and a great commitment to lead the premium non-alcoholic beer segment and build positive associations around drinking choices – in other words, we want to make alcohol-free beer cool.”

Heineken’s return is accompanied by a new TVC campaign entitled ‘The Wait’.

“With regards for performance of sponsorship properties, it will be interesting to see if there’s a spike in interest due to football’s return and the fact the competition will be finished off in a higher intensity mini-tournament format in Germany.”

“I think there will always be a demand for the original brand, however, we need to satisfy growing trends like the interest in low and ’no’ categories, and we think it’s a bold move to support it on this platform,” Tuijt concluded.


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