Estrella Damm, linked to paddle tennis for 15 years, sees the entry of foreign venues in the WPT as an opportunity to strengthen its brand internationally
The people at Estrella Damm had a vision about 15 years ago. Already linked as they were with sports like football, tennis, sailing and other major sporting events, they backed a discipline born in the 1980s, that came to be a variation of tennis but with an incalculable popular success. It was just a question of time. For some years now, paddle courts have been replacing clay courts in many tennis clubs and its success has reached South American countries, the USA and Canada.
For 13 years the brewery has sponsored and given its name to one of the country’s most prestigious paddle tennis circuits – the community of Madrid, with more than 3,000 players – and 2015 is its third season as the leading sponsor of the World Paddle Tour (WPT), the best professional circuit which brings together the top players in the world.
One of the greatest attractions of the World Paddle Tour this season is the entry of new venues in Dubai, Monte Carlo, Argentina and Portugal. We spoke to Sergi Perez, head of sports sponsorship at Damm, about the international impact and marketing strategy.
What is Estrella Damm’s sport sponsorship policy?
Historically, Damm as a company and Estrella Damm as a brand have been closely linked to sport. Proof of this, and to cite an example, is that we were founders of the Catalan Basketball League, the forerunner of the current ACB League. We were also sponsors of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and we are the only private company with a youth football club (CF Damm), with over 50 years competing in the highest divisions. We believe that the values of sport, like sportsmanship, effort and companionship fit with our philosophy and brand image. Furthermore, sport has helped us increase our brand awareness internationally.
What requirements must an event/competition comply with in order to attract the interest of Damm as sponsor?
Our brand is very universal and we could sponsor virtually any sporting event, but to optimise economic resources we concentrate on just a few. We are very focused on football, tennis and paddle, and especially in areas where we have important levels of distribution of the brand. We also give a lot of importance to the international impact of the event and its links to the city of Barcelona.
What principles and values does sport bring to your brand?
Sportsmanship, companionship and effort are the main values.
Let’s focus on paddle tennis. How long have you been linked to the sport and why?
We’ve supported paddle tennis for over 15 years. As a brand, we were pioneers in organising an amateur paddle circuit in Madrid, and today the Estrella Damm amateur circuit is the most important in the city. Last year, we got the Guinness record for the maximum number of participants in one of the events. As a result of creating this tournament over 15 years ago, we have been front row spectators of the spectacular growth that this sport has had. And that’s why we saw the opportunity for Estrella Damm to associate itself with paddle. Now, we can proudly say that Estrella Damm is the brand most recognised by all the lovers of this sport.
You have supported the World Paddle Tour from the beginning, but in mid-2014 you also took over managing it at the risk of it disappearing. How was that period?
In 2013, we became the main sponsor of the newly created World Paddle Tour, a circuit replacing the Paddle Pro Tour and created with the ambition to become a leading circuit in the international sports landscape. Last year we took a step further, as Damm became the sole shareholder of the company that manages the World Paddle Tour, through the company called SetPoint events. Admittedly, it was a difficult time but we thought that with this important step, we would ensure the viability of the World Paddle Tour and would maintain the objective of creating a large international circuit. Now, I would like to emphasise that the WPT management is completely independent and with a team of professionals that are also idependent from the Estrella Damm sponsorship team. We are beginning to see the first results, there have been some very important brands such as Adeslas that will accompany us on the circuit, we have increased it to 20 events and the media are showing greater interest every day.
What will the introduction to the circuit of new international locations like Dubai, Monte Carlo, Argentina and Portugal mean for Estrella Damm?
For Estrella Damm it is essential that the sporting events we sponsor have an international presence and impact. At the moment our brand is present in over 85 countries and this means providing pro brand support internationally. The international expansion of the WPT is necessary for a brand like ours and the same goes for the rest of the sponsoring brands. Luckily, paddle tennis is growing a lot beyond our borders and we know that there are many countries interested in the WPT.
What will this internationalisation bring you?
The most important thing in these new markets is to have brand visibility.
This year paddle tennis entered the Guinness Book of Records thanks to the event organised in October within the Estrella Damm Paddle Circuit. Where did the idea come from and what was the return on marketing strategy?
The idea came from the same team that manages the circuit in Madrid after seeing that enrolment numbers for the events were increasing year after year, and player satisfaction levels were increasing progressively. The organisation of the circuit is very professional. Once the record was achieved and certified, we conducted an intensive communication campaign both in sports media and social networks, which provided us a very significant return for the circuit and for Estrella Damm. Furthermore, the participants in the record themselves also highly publicised the event in their social networks.