Breweries Advertising in Sports

For years breweries have been involved in sports advertising and the amount of money that the industry has invested in sports is huge. The type of advertising the sports receive from the sponsorships, depends very much on where in the world the sport is and what type of sporting event it is.

Regional advertising is very popular and this is very much the case where the alcoholic drink is brewed in the area. For years Somerset County Cricket Club have been sponsored by various cider companies as the area is famous for the ciders it has produced. First it was Dry Blackthorn Cider that would appear on the club’s shirts, and when the company got bought out. Thatchers Cider started to support the county side.

The Pro 14 league and its sponsor

Guinness is a famous product of Ireland and one of the country’s most famous sports is rugby union. The top club sides in the country compete against other club sides from Wales, Scotland, Italy and South Africa in the Guinness Pro 14 League. The company spends around 150 million UK pounds on sports sponsorship every year.


Sponsoring sports competitions seems to be the most popular way of getting the breweries advertising message across. The English Premier league was sponsored by the brewers Carling between 1993 and 2001, and they also sponsored the Football League Cup between 2003 and 2012. In fact there is so much sponsorship of football from the breweries that Heineken have a made a conscious decision to direct their sponsorship towards other sports.

Final day at the Heineken Cup

They have been sponsoring rugby union for 27 years and they have just announced a deal that involves them sponsoring the 2019 World Cup. The premier club tournament in Europe is called the Heineken cup, and it has been called this since 1995 which reflects the beer company’s long term strategy when sponsoring sporting events.


Rugby Union has a close relationship with the brewing companies. The Scotland Rugby Union have had several deals with The Famous Grouse Whiskey Company which only ended in 2016. Wales have had a long standing sponsorship deal with Brains breweries since 2004. In 2005 that had to change the logo on their shirts from “Brains” to “Brawn” when they played in Paris against France.

There is a total ban on advertising all alcohol products at sporting events in the country. The Scottish side were also faced with the same problem but overcame it by just having the Famous Grouse Whiskey initials on the shirt, instead of the full name.

France isn’t the only country that has a ban on alcohol advertising at sporting events. There is a total ban in both India and Sri Lanka. The ban causes quite a problem in France as so many of its sporting competitions are against other countries team’s that sees them appearing in shirts emblazoned with some type of alcohol product. The French play in the Heineken cup bit they call it the H cup.

The John Player League before tobacco sponsorship was banned

They has been concerted calls in the United Kingdom to ban the alcohol companies from advertising in sports events. In 2003 the tobacco industry was banned from doing so, and they had for years supported such events at the Benson and Hedges Cup and the John Player league, in the domestic cricket cup competitions.

The call to impose a ban on the breweries reeks of hypocrisy as the country is proud of its weekly soaps on television, based around the life of the local pub. It fondly celebrates how it is the natural destination for the working man and woman to head there after a hard day’s work. A part of the British Culture is its “warm beer” so to suddenly villainies the industry is extreme.

If it were to do so there would be plenty of other sponsors willing to take their place, but would they have any higher moral standing? Recent times has seen an explosion in advertising come from the betting industry. Prior to 2002 there was no evidence of sponsorship coming from the betting industry into the sporting world, but at the start of the 2017-2018 football season half the sides in the premiership have their shirts advertised with a betting company.

The home of Stoke City

A number of these industries are associated with online betting, and companies such as Betway, Sportesa and Bet365 are involved heavily involved with their football clubs. Stoke City have even renamed their ground the Bet365 stadium. It is not only football, go to any sporting stadium in the world that is hosting a major sporting fixture and around the ground will be advertising space being taken by companies such as clothing brands and different bookies. And online spectators can use their phones to place a bet on any fixture and even make predictions on world cup to win 100 million reward.

Sports have now become completely reliant on the sponsors that have evolved from a wide range of industries. The alcohol industry does not have a monopoly on the sponsorship market but it makes a significant contribution each year to clubs, players, leagues and cup competitions so that the sports are economically viable.

The alcohol industry and its breweries, get a fair return in exchange with global exposure for their products and currently it would appear that everybody is benefiting from their investment.