AMSTERDAM: Heineken, the brewer, has further emphasised its position as a major sports sponsor as Amstel, one of its brands, is returning to football to sponsor the UEFA Europa League for the next three seasons. 

The new deal positions Heineken, the company, as a key player in European club football, since Heineken, the beer brand, is also the sponsor of the UEFA Champions League. That means the two brands are effectively the "beers of choice for midweek football fans" around the world as games are shown on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Hans Erik, global director of Heineken sponsorship, told Marketing Week that Amstel intended to make its Europa League campaigns "more local and regional".

"The Amstel brand has a lot of history in being European and has strongholds in different markets," he said. And in those where it doesn't have a presence – including Poland and Portugal – Heineken will use local brands to activate the sponsorship.

"As it's positioned locally we will develop sponsorships to target local audiences," he said. "We won't have one campaign – we don't want a one-size-fits-all approach."

Heineken is also a sponsor of this month's Rugby World Cup and Erik explained that "We have different objectives for different sponsorships at Heineken".

Thus rugby offers a more "affluent and younger" audience for the Heineken brand while the Europa League offers a more "national" scale for Amstel.

The football sponsorships are significant – it's claimed that 4.2bn people around the world watch the Champion's League – but the Rugby World Cup will be Heineken's biggest marketing platform of the year, accounting for almost half its budget.

Earlier this year, Tim Ellerton, global sponsorship manager at Heineken, outlined a tournament focus on loyalty rather than brand awareness.

"The challenge today is not how to reach a wide audience, because digital media has made this possible, but how you amplify sponsorship deals to enhance the brand image," he said.

RWC sponsorship will reach fewer markets than that the Champion's League, "but in those markets such as the UK, New Zealand and Australia it will be one of the biggest marketing assets that we work from", he said.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff