The role of the influencer is and continues to disrupt the sponsorship and marketing of almost every industry. Wine is no different.
From Ischwine Jolie
Alcohol and sports have always been closely linked. At its most basic level, all different types of alcoholic beverages are enjoyed while watching all sorts of different sports. As a result, alcohol brands have long been associated with sports culture. Sponsoring an athlete or team can help strengthen this relationship and make alcohol brands more attractive to consumers.
This is true at every level of the game. Alcohol categories are one of the first sponsorships that teams and sporting events try to fill because the products are authentic to the partnership. Sponsored drinks and brands can be served in guest suites, concession stands and spectator bars. Interesting activations can be planned for fans (for example, log in to win a bottle of wine if the captain scores a hat trick). For many B and C teams that rely on local fans attending local games, this is a great opportunity for local brands to get involved in these competitions and celebrations.
In addition, athletes are one of the most popular and often respected people in society, so their approvals can help alcohol brands improve their public image. In today’s world, the role of social media simply cannot be ignored, and because athletes often have some of the biggest followers in the world, alcohol brands can use their influence to reach a wider audience. For brands, growers, vineyards, commentators and anyone who wants to increase their sales or looks, working with athletes can help target specific demographics.
For their part, professional athletes seek sponsorship from brands that believe they conform to their personal values and lifestyle. For many wine brands meet this criterion.
And so to the wine
The wine is sociable, elegant and fun; it can also be elite. By approving the right brand, an athlete or team will be able to connect with their fans on a deeper level. In an increasingly competitive market, athletes are realizing the importance of approving products that their fans can connect with. In the world of professional sports sponsorship, wine is becoming increasingly popular among athletes looking for the right brand.
Sponsorship can involve a single interaction or an ongoing relationship involving multiple outcomes. For the athlete, this can mean everything at once post on social networks or a public appearance (either online or in person) to the current brand promotion. Conversely, it is known that some alcohol brands sponsor birthdays or other celebrations, thus being associated with the sports lifestyle of celebrities. The same principles can be applied on a smaller scale.
One of the most interesting sports that has demonstrated a strong connection to the industry is the National Basketball Association. NBA star Josh Hart, for example, is very fond of wine (he even has Instagram dedicated to sharing your favorite bottles). And the NBA has a thriving (if unofficial) wine club – as evidenced by the hundreds of bottles that were sent to the league’s “bubble” (the sports complex in Orlando, Florida, which safely hosts teams for the 2020 season).
Stars like three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade have been at the forefront of NBA wine craze for years. But players no longer just drink wine with each other; they direct their personal passions to make the industry more inclusive. Hart founded a scholarship program for diversity in wine to promote educational and professional opportunities, including WSET certification, for people of different backgrounds to enter the industry. This can only be good for the wine as a whole and it would not have happened without the influence that athletes have.
Three-time NBA champion and Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem has partnered with Wine Access. In a podcast, he discusses trends and interests among NBA stars for different types of grapes or regions. This simply would not have happened 10 years ago, but it points to the expanding profile of wine as a sought-after industry.
Subscriptions and approvals
Another indicator of the role that athletes as influential people can play for wine brands is the Winc campaign in the United States. Winc is the leading wine club in America, offering a wide range of different wines that you can try through its subscription service. Subscription services are popular with kraft beer lovers and are beginning to develop around the world for wine, spirits and other beverages. For Winc, the approval of athletes through social media was the most powerful marketing tool. Athletes were hired to support the business and sales simply jumped.
The role of the influencer is and continues to disrupt the sponsorship and marketing of almost every industry. Wine is no different. The challenge will be to see how the first-class end responds or engages. Exclusivity has always been vital to certain wine brands, but that hasn’t stopped them from sponsoring or advertising in the past. They have always been incredibly selective about the type of event they sponsor or the advertising they produce. This selectivity will no doubt be applied to any means of influence to engage, but we will not be surprised to see athletes at the top of this list.
Ishveen Jolly is an innovator in the sports marketing industry she has built OpenSponsorship.com in the world’s largest market, connecting brands with athletes for digital marketing campaigns. Her awards include being included in the sports list of Forbes 30U30, the list of Inc. with the top 100 women founders and raising over $ 5 million for the company, including from NBA team owners, athletes, remarkable venture capitalists and its Alma Mater Oxford University.