Coopers brewery has this week announced that it is the major sponsor of the V8 Supercars.
Forgetting for a moment that this may have been an opportunistic signing with suggestions that Lion dropped the sponsorship at the last moment, it highlights the interesting position that Coopers finds itself in as the largest Australian brewer, but third biggest overall by a long way.
Coopers fortunes have fluctuated over the years and, while now they are apparently riding a crest of a wave, it has come at a cost too. Ten years ago if a bar or restaurant had Coopers amongst its lager taps, the discerning beer drinker would have rejoiced. Today, self-serious beer venues often eschew even Sparkling Ale as being ‘mainstream’, and yet Sparkling is just 15 per cent of Coopers’ total volume, which in turn is just 4 per cent of the national market.
However, with its highly visible cues of overt blokiness, the V8 Supercar sponsorship will do nothing to change these perceptions, but will it increase sales of Coopers traditional beers or accelerate take up of their solidly mainstream offerings? Or both?
Coopers’ mid-strength ale, Mild Ale, is nominally the flagship beer behind the sponsorship, but how much this is as a result of a serious push for the brand and how much it is a pragmatic decision that takes into account the politics of alcohol sponsorship of motor racing is a subject for debate. It will be interesting to see end-of-season sales figures for Mild and the other beer that will be tied into the pourage rights, their low-carb, low flavour offering, Coopers Clear. Coopers visible marketing push is increasingly towards Clear, including the seemingly incongruous tie to the Adelaide Good Food & Wine Show. Coopers has also registered a Trade Mark for “Coopers Clear 3.5”, which may signal a planned brand extension which would now be a solid fit with their new sponsorship. Since its launch in January 2010, Clear has quickly grown to represent eight per cent of Coopers’ total sales and must have been the single biggest – if not only – contributor to the brewery’s slight total production growth from 62 million litres in 2009-10 to 62.9 million litres in 2010-11.
Will the sponsorship act as a means to introduce a broader market to their traditional ales via Mild, or will short shorts and low carbs contribute to a further change in the perception of the brewer. Will it expand the market for Coopers Ales, or reinforce the worst stereotypes of beer? Either way, mixed messages are nothing new to the modern Coopers, which just last year announced both an alliance with iconic US craft brewery Anchor Brewing and that it was brewing Sapporo under licence.
In its 150th year, Coopers is still keeping things interesting.
Coopers joins forces with V8 Supercars
Coopers Brewery and V8 Supercars are joining forces, with the iconic South Australian brewer becoming a premium partner of the sport.
Coopers, now the largest Australian-owned brewer, and V8 Supercars have signed an agreement that will give Coopers pourage rights to all Australian V8 Supercar events and the title of Official Beer Partner of the sport.
The announcement coincides with the 150th year celebration for Coopers which just last year was named as the world’s top family business ahead of giant global brands such as Lego and Estee Lauder.
The South Australian born and bred company will make its V8 Supercar debut at the Clipsal 500 next month (March 1-4), an Adelaide event that is a four-time winner of Australian Tourism’s Best Festival or Event.
V8 Supercar Chairman Tony Cochrane said the partnership between two of Australia’s greatest home-grown products and international exports was a coup for both brands.
“It’s an absolute honour to announce this agreement with Coopers, and particularly with Coopers Chairman and Marketing Director, Glenn Cooper and Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper, who are such great Australians,” Mr Cochrane said.
“Coopers is a family-owned company with more than 150 years of tradition and a very acute sense of its heritage. We at V8 Supercars enjoy a very similar culture.
“And just like V8 Supercars, Coopers continues to grow at an extraordinary pace.”
Coopers has been a long-term supporter of sport and the arts, although this is the first major national partnership it has undertaken.
Coopers Chairman and Marketing Director, Mr Glenn Cooper, said the sponsorship agreement followed extensive discussions with the V8 Supercars’ management.
“The opportunity to gain sponsorship of the V8 Supercars as we entered our 150th year was too good to pass up,” he said.
“It is a high profile sport which generates enormous interest from racegoers and millions of television viewers around the world. It is an ideal way to get our products in front of Australian and international audiences.
“We anticipate the exposure which will be generated by this agreement will act as a major boost to our image and sales.
“Getting the opportunity to sponsor such a high profile series shows that the planets have aligned in our favour.”
Mr Cooper said that Coopers Mild 3.5 and Coopers Clear would be on sale at all V8 events in Australia, with some additional products offered at Clipsal in Adelaide.
“Coopers Mild 3.5 is a mid-strength ale which shares many of the same characteristics as our best known products, Coopers Original Pale Ale (Coopers Green) and Coopers Sparkling Ale (Coopers Red).
“It is Australia’s only mid strength ale and is a testimony to the skills to our brewers.”
Mr Cooper said Coopers, along with the V8 Supercars organisation, fully endorsed the responsible use of alcohol message and was a key reason that Coopers Mild was being used as the lead beer for the series.
Coopers Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper, said the sponsorship was the most significant in Coopers 150 year history.
In 2012, V8 Supercars will also celebrate two major milestones – the 50th year of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and the 50th birthday of Sandown Raceway.