COMMENT: Player endorsements' sporting chance
According to media reports, UK wine consumers could soon be buying Diego Maradona branded wine should Argentine winemaker Raices de Agrelo find a UK distributor. Regardless of whether the firm does replicate its Americas offering in Europe, endorsing wine with iconic sports personalities could be a way of expanding the category's appeal.
According to a report in the trade magazine The Grocer, South American winemaker Raices de Agrelo has launched a range of five red wines branded Diego Armando Maradona - after one of the world's most revered footballers.
However, Raices de Agrelo is apparently unsure if the Maradona wines would receive the same warm reception in England as they do in Argentina. He is still a much-despised figure for scoring an infamous goal with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup.
Furthermore, his recent and much publicized health problems, a product of a long running battle with drug addiction are symbolic of the numerous off-field problems that have tainted his unquestionable flair and finesse on the pitch. Given these factors, the wine range is unlikely to resonate with many UK, especially English, consumers.
However, using sports stars to make drinks an attractive proposition for consumers is already a well-developed marketing tactic in the Americas. Raices de Agrelo has also produced a range of wines under the name of the former Columbian international footballer Carlos Valderrama, and Maradona's old club, Boca Juniors, became the first football team to launch its own wine earlier this year. Another South American football great, Pele, also has his own branded coffee.
With UK sports stars such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, and Jonny Wilkinson having ever growing influence in the commercial field as well as on the sporting one, the idea of sports personality branded wines would appear to have potential. Just as beer marketers have sought to entice new consumers to the category by positioning it as a sophisticated table wine equivalent, wine producers can use appropriate sporting personalities to make wine more attractive and accessible to core beer consumers.
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