Global Grocery Sponsorship

 

Grocers represent an industry wholly ingrained into the communities they serve. As such, you’ll find these grocers do a good job choosing partnerships to show their support of those communities. You will note a difference between the tactics of American and European grocers. This may stem from the differing  popular sports and pastimes on the two continents. Grocery sponsorship should be a more heavily targeted segment, especially for one-time events (or annual events that move city to city); these deals are an easy and authentic way to integrate into the community.

 

 

Before we get into the different categories, we’ll showcase a deal with a unique rights holder. In 2012, UK grocer Tesco extended its sponsorship deal with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LFGA) until 2014. This is the first example of the non-traditional (you’ll read more later) events, properties and other rights holders European grocers seem to favor. American grocers, as you'll see, while concentrating on community, favor higher profile properties.

This particular deal continued support, began by Tesco in 2009, of the All Ireland Club Championships. Additionally, these other events received support from the Tesco HomeGrown brand:

  • All Ireland Post Primary competitions
  • All Ireland Club Sevens
  • Dublin Club Championships
  • Cork Club Championships

The grocer also supported the Club Person of the Year Award.

Community Events

Grocers find a great fit with community events globally. Local branches are able to support the communities in which they operate, the events themselves receive usually much needed monetary or trade sponsorships, and community members feel as though a large corporation cares about their well-being.

 

Annual Events

Domestically, we were able to find two well-publicized grocery partnerships. The first, from Safeway Foundation, is the Winter Wonderland Light Show at the Portland Raceway. Safeway held the title sponsorship, while a local credit union “powered” the event. Local branches of the grocer also sold advance and discounted tickets. 

Wegmans, one of the most highly regarded grocery chains in the US, is a longtime partner of the Marine Corps Marathon. The grocer supports several of its initiatives, including the Historic Half Marathon weekend, the MCM Event Series, the MCM 10k, and the Health & Fitness Expo. Since originally signing on in 2010, Wegman’s has expanded its presence from the Historic Half. 

British grocer Tesco has found a successful - and fantastic fit - partnership for its Irish stores. The Great Irish Bake, run by longtime Tesco partner Temple Street, is a nationwide bake sale. The grocer encouraged community participation - and highlighted the brand’s own products for use in bake sale preparation. Not all Tesco’s partnerships on the community front have been as successful; the grocer ended its 10 year relationship with Race for Life in 2011.

Also in Ireland, Aldi signed a three-year title sponsorship of the Community Games just last year. The first year of the contract also coincided with the Golden Jubilee (50 years) of the event. Like Aldi’s other sponsorships, a large focus will be on the community health programming part of the event. In 2017, over 160,000 children in 575 communities were expected to participate.

Fairs

The conglomerate of Safeway and Albertsons has secured some of the largest fairs on the West Coast. Just take a look at all of the fairs partnering Albertsons/Vons/Safeway (and their attendance numbers in 2017):

One fair going in a different direction is the Alameda County Fair, which has a new partnership with SaveMart’s Lucky and Lucky California brands for 2018. In 2017, this Pleasanton, California based fair saw a total attendance exceeding 460,000

Each fair incorporates their grocer partner differently. At the Alameda County Fair, Oregon State Fair and San Diego County Fair, the grocers offer discounted tickets to the public to pre-purchase. At the OC Fair, Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions sponsors a building housing exhibits and concessions in line with the brand’s values and goals.

Television

Two European grocers found a fit on the small screen. First up: Tesco signed on to sponsor the fourth series of Downton Abbey (how could this NOT succeed?) following a scandal. Other grocers were dabbling in television sponsorship as well; rival Morrisons sponsored Britain’s Got Talent. Competitor Sainsbury’s, while not sponsoring a television program, had signed on with British athletics (where they were later replaced).

Where better for a grocer than a cooking show? It’d likely be difficult to find a more clear-cut fit. We’re specifically speaking about Aldi’s deal with UK Seven’s cooking show Hell’s Kitchen. As the official supermarket, Aldi provided both fresh produce and pantry items to the contestants. The grocer also integrated an advertising campaign around this partnership; if it was anything like the Rio fruit salad, we’re sure of its success. Other sponsors affiliated were a prestigious bunch including Sony Pictures, Diageo, Airtasker and Lurpak.

Soccer

Soccer, or football, partnerships are particularly successful and sought-after among European grocers. However, the largest deals are those with each country’s football association for inclusion in FIFA World Cup excitement.

French supermarket chain Carrefour signed a deal with the Royal Belgium Football Association and national team in 2013. This partnership was structured to include two World Cup cycles: the 2014 edition in Brazil and the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Carrefour hosted exclusive events and stocked national team products for sale in its stores. Throughout the 5 year partnership, Carrefour offered support to two additional assets: the national women’s team and the Cofidis Cup.

Also working on the women’s side is Asda, though this time in association for a UEFA event rather than FIFA. The UK chain signed a deal to support last year’s European Women’s U19 Championship, hosted in Northern Ireland. The deal was largely financial, but included a legacy outlet. Asda partnered with the Irish FA’s legacy program to promote increased participation in women’s soccer. Asda’s deal also supported the tournament’s volunteer recruitment program.

 

England FA

Tesco signed on to sponsor the 2010 England World Cup team, booting previous sponsor Sainsbury’s. The terms of the deal were not made public, however; Tesco was always going to have a difficult time differentiating in the World Cup market. Rival supermarket Asda (through parent company Wal-Mart) was also able to sell general World Cup merchandise in its stores. Tesco supplied Team England gear.

Photo by Mitch Rosen on Unsplash

Tesco itself was booted in 2015 in favor of a three year deal with German grocer Lidl. And Lidl didn’t stop at England, signing all teams in Great Britain to three year partnerships. In summary: until 2018, Lidl is the official supermarket of Team England, Team Scotland, and Team Wales. Since we’ll only see Team England in the upcoming World Cup, we'll be watching the renewal process closely.

Olympic Sports & NGBs

European grocers, particularly the German chain Aldi, have really focused sponsorship efforts on the Olympic Games and associated sports.

The first deal we’ll discuss for Aldi is the brand’s contract with Team GB. Prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016, Aldi signed on with the British Olympic Association (BOA) to support the team for the run up and during the Rio Games. This deal was signed in 2015, offering the chain about a year of Olympic affiliation.  

Though short, the deal was creative and far-reaching. Aldi used a multi-pronged approach, touching athlete support, community engagement and nutrition education all within its program. Aldi offered all Team GB athletes monthly vouchers to spend in-store (who doesn’t like grocery help?). In the BOA program sphere, Aldi was involved with both Homegrown Heroes (which encourages communities to support local hopefuls) and Get Set to Eat Fresh (promoting healthy eating at schools around the UK).

 

In addition to Team GB itself, Aldi initially signed with six aspiring Olympic athlete. Just last year, Aldi also signed the Brownlee brothers to a four-year partnership leading up to the triathlon competition in Tokyo in 2020.

 

Rugby

Similar to the chain’s BOA deal, Aldi partnered with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) in a deal encompassing multiple areas and programs. First off, continuing the brand’s dedication to community, the deal included support of the “Play Rugby” program, with the goal of increasing youth participants in Ireland to over 100,000 by 2018. Aldi also had the opportunity  to sponsor a national rugby festival held at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium early last year.

 

Cycling

Finally! We’ve some Olympic sport sponsorship beyond Aldi’s doors. French chain Carrefour has a cyclical focus - on cycling, that is. In 2016, the brand’s Polish division signed on as an official partner to the UCI World Tour’s “Tour de Pologne.” Carrefour became the official partner of stage winners - handing out prizes every single stage to the best cyclists in the race. Not a bad photo op by any standard.

A bit further south, Carrefour’s Spanish division hooked up with Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, another multi-stage road cycling race (though in Catalonia) in 2017. The brand used the event to promote its local distribution of products. It also directly participated in several race activities. No word on if the spend was the same between the Polish race (with stage winner sponsorship) and the Spanish version (with a more diversified participation).

Dipping a toe into cycling was American chain Safeway, which signed a deal for the 2015 season with a second tier UCI team (Airgas) in the US. The team competed primarily in the US with a couple of international races. There doesn’t appear to be a renewal since this first contract. This is unsurprising, as cycling is not highly promoted in America.

 

Golf

In a much more marketable sport in America, Safeway signed a five-year title sponsorship deal with the Northern California PGA Tour stop. Previously sponsored by Frys, Safeway made the switch from the Portland LPGA event in 2016 to the tournament held annually at the Silverado Resort. The title sponsorship deal with Safeway also keeps the season-opener at Silverado.

East Coast favorite chain Wegmans expanded LPGA sponsorship itself in 2010. The brand signed a two year title sponsorship for the 2011 and 2012 events. This deal was done after Wegman’s boasted presenting sponsorship at the 2010 edition. After this initial two year deal, Wegmans signed on through the 2014 tournament, after which the brand was replaced by KPMG.

Wegmans also previously sponsor of Wegmans LPGA from 1977 until 2009.

Big 4 American Leagues

Grocery sponsorship within the Big 4 American Leagues is not heavily publicized, though that’s not to say deals do not exist. Each league has at least one successful grocery partnership in the public eye. A quick reference chart of the more publicized deals is below.

Sources: Seahawks, Chargers, Sharks, Jaguars, Publix, Warriors, Royals

 

These partnerships are all activated using individual approaches. The Sharks and Safeway operate a ‘Score and Win’ promotion predicated on the success of an individual Sharks player. With the Seahawks, Safeway runs an in-store ‘Shop and Score’ program which operates as a enter to win contest by specific product purchases. Albertsons and the Chargers are again activating differently, with special deliveries to fans ordering groceries online during the season. Continuing digital engagement, their #RepTheBolts hashtag allows fans to show off any new Chargers gear purchases.

Publix hosts cooking contests at NFL tailgates and offers NFL themed subs during football season at its stores. With the Jaguars specifically, Publix took over the grocery category from Winn-Dixie. To activate, Publix will host similar tailgate competitions as mentioned above, and also sharing recipes and participating in hunger relief with the Jags during the holiday seasons. Another team participating with their grocer sponsor on hunger relief is the Lucky Supermarkets and Golden State Warriors partnership. Just last year, the two organizations teamed up to operate a Community Food Drive at a local food bank.

Price Chopper, which took over for previous grocery sponsor Hy Vee last year, focuses on community engagement and onsite signage. Price Chopper is also the grocery sponsor of Sporting KC, Kansas City’s MLS team.

 

NASCAR

NASCAR has offered American grocers a dedicated alternative to mainstream sports. Three chains in particular (SaveMart, Kroger, and Basha’s) have clearly focused on this sport; which, until recently, was highly lauded for its excellent fan brand loyalty levels.

Arizona-based grocer Basha’s found a way to combine both its community engagement with its NASCAR sponsorship at the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). First entering into a multiyear agreement in 2002 with title sponsorship rights for the Bashas’ 200, the grocer re-signed in 2005 to a new deal. The second title sponsorship deal covered a new race part of the NASCAR Busch Series; it was still located at PIR.

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

The Kroger chain of grocers tried a couple different tactics to integrate into NASCAR. In 2015, the chain extended its primarily signage-based deal with the International Speedway Cooperation (ISC). This deal includes assets at nine different ISC-operated tracks at Daytona, Chicagoland, Homestead-Miami, Martinsville, Michigan, Richmond, Talladega, and Watkins Glen. Kroger also had presenting sponsor rights at the Daytona 500 as part of this large multiyear contract.

Just this year, Kroger has expanded a marketing activation using its partnership with NASCAR’s JTG Daugherty Racing team. The grocer will be promoting its Clicklist program (curbside grocery pickup) on both JTG’s No. 47 car and its No. 37 car. Last year, the program was promoted only on No. 47. That car will continue to serve as the lead Kroger car, however.

Lastly, SaveMart Supermarkets signed an extension agreement with Sonoma Raceway in 2015. This continued one of the longest-running title or co-title sponsorships of an annual Cup event in all of NASCAR. New in the extension was the “SaveMart/Lucky Breaking Zone” during race weekend. This activation area allowed fan engagement through social media, phone charging, photo booth and driver interaction.

NCAA

Two American grocery chains are making their name in sponsorship through NCAA partnerships, while a third has found its niche.

Regional chain Piggly Wiggly found a landing spot at the Reese’s Senior Bowl with title sponsorship of the Tailgate Party. Piggly Wiggly locations distributed free passes to the party; passes were also available at the bowl game’s box office. This is a small, but highly visible partnership for a small but memorably named grocer.

 

Albertsons

West Coast chain Albertsons has signed on with Pac-12 school Oregon State and the Big Sky/Sun Belt’s University of Idaho. Each deal is tailored to the rights holder however, working to find the best fit for Albertsons’ dollar(s).

In Corvallis, Albertsons is the Official Grocer of the Athletics Department. The grocer will be backing two particular inititatives:

  • Veteran of the Game, honoring one veteran during each home football game in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
  • Great Baby Race, featuring Beaver babies racing during the men’s basketball home games.

In Moscow, Idaho, Albertsons will be all over the university’s new sport court arena. This arena will host basketball and volleyball games and Albertsons has naming rights to the scoreboard. This deal was announced with financial terms: Albertsons will be receiving these rights and recognition for 10 years with a $500,000 investment.

 

Whole Foods

Sticking to East Coast sponsorship, Whole Foods has signed on with Seton Hall Athletics and George Washington Athletics. Like Albertsons, Whole Foods has extraordinarily different deals with each school. We, and they, hope for the ideal result: both partners receiving what they need.

With Seton Hall, Whole Foods is focusing on the fan. New opportunities for Pirate fans include special offers on both physical and printed digital tickets for home games and giveaways for Whole Foods’ Community Giving Days participants at home basketball games.

At GW, Whole Foods is becoming indispensable to the athlete. The grocer will be filling training rooms with healthy snacks - nutritious and free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives and sans hydrogenated fats as well. Further healthy integrations come through Whole Foods catering for Colonial Club activities (and preferred catering destination for Colonials’ game opponents). Remembering fans, Whole Foods will be engaging during a few men’s basketball games with giveaways or coupons.