Carlsberg Football Advertising

Carlsberg calls time on England sponsorship as focus broadens to live music and other sports


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 23, 2018 | 4 min read

Danish beer brand Carlsberg is to hang up its boots as a sponsor of the England national football team after backing the club for 22 years.

Carlsberg ambassador Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen touts The Danish Way

The advertiser instead plans to broaden its attention with a focus on alternative sporting events and live music in a bid to "broaden its partnerships as a brand in the UK".

Carlsberg's vice-president of brands Liam Newton said that despite a shift in focus football will still play a role in the brewer's mix, as it continues to be the official beer to eight Premier League clubs including Liverpool and Tottenham.

The move from the beer brand comes less than a year after it funneled £15m into a glossy advertising overhaul which sought to position it as a premium product. In a bid to move further upmarket, the firm enlisted actor Mads Mikkelsen to front its 'The Danish Way' initiative.

Now, its long-standing partnership will be put to rest after 11 tournaments, in which England amassed World Cup quarter finals in 1986, 2002 and 2006 and a fourth-place finish in 1990. On the Euros front, there were a handful of dalliances out of the group stages and a semi final in 1996.

Carlsberg, which is heavily tied up in football, has chosen not to renew the deal after the 2018 World Cup.

Newton said in a statement: “We get most value out of partnerships that create rich content and fantastic brand experiences and enable us to tell our unique story, history and heritage."

He added that this means the beer giant will now turn its focus to its five-year partnership with Live Nation, which positions Carlsberg as the official beer of festivals like Wireless, Latitude, Reading and Leeds, and Glasgow's TRNSMT festivals. For the 11th year running, it will also be Glastonbury's official beer.

“We wish the FA and England all of the best in the future and we will play our part in making this summer one to remember for England fans, ‘probably’," he finished.

At Euro 2016 Carlsberg served as a tournament partner and benefited from the stellar performance of minnow country Iceland. Its ‘Probably’ proposition came to the fore during these activations, a shortening of 'Probably the Best Beer in the World' which was conceded to due to French marketing law which took issue with the phrase in its full form.

Carlsberg's refusal to renew the partnership represents a change in mind from Carlsberg marketing controller, Lynsey Woods.

Last year she hinted that the brand would push its marketing more towards the “quality brand” benchmark but told The Drum that it was reluctant to move away from its official sponsorship of England’s national football team.

Any abandonment of this space could open the door for rival brands to step to the mark on the hoardings, kits and as the official beer of select stadiums.

As it stands, the England sponsorship is now on the table.

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