Whisky Magazine Issue 5
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How do you support rugby and introduce two million Chinese to the phrase 'Famous Grouse' at the same time? Richard Bath explains.
Whisky and rugby are not the most natural of bedfellows, you might think. But you would be wrong. Or at least, if you were right, Highland Distillers has been wasting a vast amount of the marketing budget for The Famous Grouse for many years now. As well as sponsoring London Scottish and the Scotland rugby team for much of the Nineties, Grouse has just spent a reported £1.2m to become one of the elite sponsors of the next Rugby World Cup – ‘official supplier' is the technical term – to be held in Europe this autumn.
That brings estimated spending on rugby since 1990 to getting on for £10m. For Grouse, its sponsorship of rugby's premier event is useful to reinforce its core sponsorship of Scotland, whose Five Nations-winning performance this year confirmed its place as one of the few Scottish sporting successes. Not only does Grouse get to be associated with Scotland, but the success factor is very important. And so is the rugby constituency. For although the game may not be strictly socially homogeneous, whether you are in Melrose, Cardiff, Christchurch or Cape Town, the half-time nip from a hip flask is de rigeur. Inside and out with the game, the casual association of rugby and drink – beer for the boys and whisky for the older rugger buggers in blazers – is a well- established one.
As well as the fit of the sponsorship and the chance to piggyback on the back of Scottish success, the World Cup is also a formidable brand-building vehicle in its own right. The...