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Heineken sets new records with investments in Africa and its love for football

Heineken sets new records with investments in Africa and its love for football
May 17
08:49 2022

It’s a Wednesday night in Lagos. You walk into a bar with the screens green and red. The people are gathered in expectation of another beautiful night of football. If you were to imagine what the people are drinking, a majority of Africans would have one answer, and that answer is, the “Champions League beer” — Heineken. 

That expectation and reality is powered by centuries of hard work, innovation and investments across continents. That journey began in 1864, when Heineken was founded in the Netherlands after Gerard Adriaan Heineken bought the haystack brewery in Amsterdam. In the decades that followed, Heineken developed beyond just a beer to a culture, a sustainable business, and a team that transcends just beverages. 

The journey to Africa started in 1900 when Heineken’s first beer was shipped to the continent. A hundred and twenty two years later, Heineken has found a home on the continent, enhanced a culture among the people, and poured hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign investment into the continent. 

HEINEKEN INVESTS FRESH $250M IN AFRICA

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From shipping beer to Africa in 1900, Heineken has gone on to set up 57 breweries in 23 countries across the continent, directly employing tens of thousands of people and creating opportunities for millions around Africa. 

In 2019, the beer maker set up a $100 million brewery in Mozambique to cater to the demand in the Eastern Africa. Another $11 million brewery was set up in Congo. This is in addition to the $119.5 million brewery set up in Ethiopia, back in 2015. 

Heineken loves Africa, but Africa also loves Heineken. As Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken director of global sponsorships, noted: “For Heineken, the continent is also one of our largest markets accounting for some of the highest growth for the brand, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Despite the challenges of the last two years, Africa has stuck with the beer and its many offerings on the continent.

For 2021, Heineken made a revenue of $3.5 billion, and operating profit of $482.5 million. What is particularly interesting, and proof of the bond between the brand and the continent, is that 90 percent of the operating profit made in Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe (AMEEE) came in from sub-Saharan Africa only.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TROPHY TOUR

Heineken Inspiration Match during 2022 UCL Trophy Tour

Building on a history of unique brand partnership, Heineken came into a partnership with the UEFA as the premium sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, which is watched across the world.

For an unbroken 17 years, the company has sponsored the tournament which feeds over a billion eyeballs every year. 

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Africa has been at the heart of that partnership: today, there are about 100 professional African footballers playing in the tournament, with more than 25 previous UCL champions, including legends like Kanu Nwankwo, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, and Sadio Mane. 

This has also been the inspiration for Heineken, which has set up trophy tours around the continent.

Tuijt, the director of global partnership at Heineken, said recently: “Africa is a significant football region for good reasons. There are five billion football fans around the world, with Africa representing one of the largest fan bases across the globe.

“Undoubtedly, football is the most popular sport in Africa with an estimated 400 million Africans regularly tuning in to watch the UCL every season. UEFA and Heineken therefore partnered to take the prestigious UEFA Champions League (UCL) trophy on a tour of Africa with one objective – to inspire a new generation of African football fans and as appreciation of their love for UEFA Champions League and Heineken.”

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Heineken hosted UCL trophy tours across Africa in 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2022. The tour reaches 50,000 people directly and over 10 million Africans via the media. The 2022 tour, which ran through the Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique to Ethiopia and finally to Nigeria, is evidence of the brand’s resilience and commitment to continuity in Africa. 

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Emerging from the pandemic, the 2022 tour has been the biggest trophy tour yet on the continent. It featured Clarence Seedorf, the first and only player to have won the UCL with three different clubs — Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan. The tour hosted celebrity and inspirational football matches with legends such as Jay Jay Okocha, Taribo West, MI Abaga, Davido, Darey Art Alade, Amokachi, just to name a few. It also featured music performances by some of the continent’s biggest artistes. 

Bram Westerbrink, senior global director at Heineken, explained that the brand’s sponsorship of UCL in Africa is almost double that of any other sponsor.

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“For us at Heineken, football is not just a game; it is a shared experience,” he said. 

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