Peroni Libera 0.0% sponsors Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team

The Peroni Libera 0.0% logo will take pride of place on Aston Martin Cognizant’s new Formula 1 car this season as part of a multi-year sponsorship deal. Drinks International caught up with Richard Ingram, global brands director at parent company Asahi Europe & International, to learn more about its plans for the partnership.

Aston Martin is returning to Formula One after a 61-year absence in 2021. The team has signed four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel to partner talented youngster Lance Stroll in an intriguing line-up.

It promises to be a fascinating season, as sweeping rule changes could herald the end of Mercedes’ dominance and make the Constructors’ Championship battle a lot more competitive. Aston Martin Cognizant will compete for glory with Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and many other iconic teams, and the Peroni Libera 0.0% logo will feature prominently.

Richard Ingram, global brands director at Asahi, found Formula One attractive due to its global reach and immense popularity. Formula One has around 600 million fans, and the annual cumulative TV audience stands at 2 billion. “It’s 23 races in 23 countries, of which about 85% are our core countries for Peroni Nastro Azzurro,” says Ingram. “It gives you continuity – it’s nine months of the year.

“This is the biggest partnership in our history, and the first global partnership we have done. What became clear to me when I was looking at platforms to help us drive growth on a global scale is that Formula One is like no other. It’s truly the super-premium, pinnacle of motorsport.”

The Peroni Libera 0.0% logo will feature on the kit worn by Vettel and Stroll. It will also be displayed inside the car, which is important when targeting a TV audience, as the cockpit view is regularly shown. The alcohol-free beer will be poured in the paddock, and the Asahi team will then build on that exposure by targeting on-trade and off-trade growth in the cities that host the Grands Prix throughout the year.

“This partnership is a demonstration of the future growth that we anticipate and support we are putting behind the industry and our customers,” says Ingram.

It is interesting to note that Asahi has chosen Peroni Libera as the beneficiary of its largest ever sponsorship deal, which will run for several years.

“Our company ambition is that one in five of our beer sales will be non-alcoholic by 2030,” says Ingram. “Libera’s role in that will be critical. It will be our lead global non-alcoholic beer. We’ll launch it in some 15 markets this year. It’s a big deal for us.”

He believes that demand for high-quality, alcohol-free beer will only continue to increase in the years ahead. “The trend of health and wellbeing will not slow down. The five-year CAGR is about 30% within the segment.

“People are going to continue to drink less, but better, and we are well placed. Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Peroni Libra are really well placed for drinking better when people do drink alcohol and when they choose to drink something that doesn’t have alcohol. The world has dramatically changed from the default choice being a sugary carbonated soft drink. You’ve actually now got something that can give you the same feeling and emotions that the parent beer brand can.

“We are building premium brands within this world. That is the segment that’s going to grow. It’s critical to our customers. They need distinctive brands, and there isn’t another brand that delivers style and sophistication like ours. This level of support demonstrates our ambition, and I hope our customers will come on that journey with us.”

The brand will also partner with Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team to create a content campaign during the season. The first film, released today, features Vettel and Stroll revealing their inner passion and flair, and discussing what inspires the two drivers to excel at the pinnacle of motorsport.

“We wanted to come into this with a partner where we have aligned values,” says Ingram. “Aston Martin is a brand that stands for style and sophistication, as we do. We’re an icon of Italian style. They’re an icon of British style. We want to bring the passion and flair back into Formula One.

“It’s 61 years since they’ve been in Formula One. All eyes are going to be on them. The car looks spectacular. It’s super-premium, it’s sophisticated, and that’s why that combination makes perfect sense.

“I believe they’re going to do well. They want to win. We want to win globally. They’re going to be up there with the leaders of the pack.”

Peroni Libera has already enjoyed strong sales growth since it was launched in 2019, according data providers including Nielsen. “It’s doing incredibly well,” says Ingram. “Its largest market is the UK. It’s doing incredibly well in both the on-trade and the off-trade, because it’s distinct.

“Our style is aspirational 0% with a superior taste, and so much of 0% [the overall category] so far has been a compromise choice. We want to make it a positive choice. Something stylish and super-premium.”

It is now just over three years since Asahi took over the Peroni brand following the merger of AB InBev and SAB Miller.

“This business was formed with Asahi just over three years ago, and it was a massive change for the company,” says Ingram. “Asahi has changed from a domestic Japanese brewer into an international force. We’ve now built a global business, and the job is to build global brands, and Peroni Nastro Azzurro is a key driver of that growth.”

The business has been impacted by Covid-19 over the past year, as its key channel is the premium on-trade, but Ingram is optimistic that the bar trade will rebound in the second half of 2021. The partnership with Aston Martin is a sign of its confidence in this sector's ability to enjoy a strong future.

“It’s a long-term deal, it’s a multimillion investment. Partnerships work when they have time. Our business isn’t about short-term hits. We’re playing for the long-term.”

Aston Martin Cognizant was formerly known as Racing Point. The team finished fourth last year, but it has been rebranded for 2021.

Chairman Lawrence Stroll, father to Lance, says: “We are thrilled to welcome Peroni Libera 0.0% to the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One family, and we are delighted that two such great brands will be in partnership from the very start of Aston Martin’s historic return as a team entrant to the top tier of global motor racing after an absence of 61 years.

“This partnership is another boost to the team ahead of the new season and is an opportunity to bring together two iconic brands on a unique journey in Formula One. We look forward to immersing Peroni Libera 0.0% into the team and achieving the brand’s global growth ambitions through the platform of Formula One.”