How a sponsorship deal can improve brand loyalty? The example of Heineken

This year, Heineken will be a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup (RWC). Seb Joseph explains in an article in The Drum the strategy of Heineken during this event.
For this event, the brand decided to focus more on creating brand loyalty rather than on maximizing its exposure. As a consequence, Heineken’s campaigns will be based on digital activities, such as social media and mobile app, in order to create a useful presence around the tournament. This will allow the brand to have a more effective approach towards the rugby fans.
According to Repucom, 49% of rugby fans are more likely to choose the products of an official partner over rival brands, and, compared to other sports, they are particularly loyal to brands. Tim Ellerton, global sponsorship manager at Heineken, said: “a lot of rugby fans are already loyal Heineken consumers. We’re already talking to a captive audience who actually like our brand and our products.” An event such as the RWC can be a very powerful tool to consolidate this loyalty.
Even if the audience will be particularly receptive, the main difficulty in a sport event sponsorship is to be able to efficiently develop the brand image. Tim Ellerton stated that “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”. To reach this objective, Heineken will use different means to approach its audience, such as an app which will allow people to find their nearest pub or club selling Heineken beer, a big TV, experiential activities, etc.
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