24.11.12 - THE GRAND NATIONAL
John Smith's enter final furlong of Grand National title sponsorship.
Aintree Racecourse is in the process of seeking a new title sponsor for the Grand National from 2014 after ale brand John Smith's confirmed that they will not be renewing the sponsorship beyond next year.
The 2013 meeting will see the HEINEKEN-owned John Smith's brand backing the Grand National for the ninth consecutive year, after announcing a three-year sponsorship deal in 2004 and three-year extensions to the agreement in both 2006 and 2009.
During the term of the sponsorship, John Smith's developed a close working partnership with the Aintree management team which saw the brand leverage the sponsorship to deliver a number of ground-breaking initiatives, which included the innovative John Smith's People's Race, a charity race for members of the public on Grand National day, Grand National legends, Smithy the People's Racehorse and, more recently, the brand has worked closely with the Bob Champion Cancer Trust to stage a successful charity race on Grand National day featuring former Grand National jockeys.
HEINEKEN have already expressed a wish to explore other ways in which they can continue to be involved in the race weekend, outside headline sponsorship and talks between the two parties will continue over the coming months.
Speaking on behalf of John Smith's, brand manager Karen Crowley said: "The Grand National has been one of the jewels in our UK sponsorship crown and the decision to end the title sponsorship was difficult to make.
"Working closely with the Aintree team, we've developed a number of innovative concepts which have helped return the race to the hearts and minds of the British public. We end our long association in the knowledge we have created a successful and significant sponsorship model that will serve Aintree and its new sponsors well in the future.
"We've enjoyed nine exciting years as the title sponsor of jump racing's flagship event, during which time we have seen the John Smith's Grand National achieve record TV viewing figures and attendances.
"We've also enjoyed fantastic opportunities to deliver our 'No Nonsense' brand experience to Aintree racegoers and John Smith's drinkers across the UK. However, we felt that now was the right time to move on, reflecting changes in the ale market and the development of the John Smith's brand.
"We will continue to be involved in racing through events such as the John Smith's Cup at York and the Northumberland Plate, both televised on Channel 4, and hope that we can find ways to continue being involved in the Grand National meeting in some capacity after 2013."
John Baker, Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses North responsible for running Aintree, paid tribute to John Smith's for their part in the event's current popularity: "The team at Aintree and indeed the whole of racing are indebted for the fantastic support we've received from HEINEKEN and the John Smith's team.
"They have been instrumental in delivering exciting marketing initiatives and bringing the narrative of the Grand National to life. Throughout their time, through their invaluable contributions to the race meeting, we've seen prize money, attendances and viewing figures grow.
"We are in the process of finalising our sponsorship strategy to ensure the event remains one of the 'Crown Jewels' in the worldwide sporting calendar but our focus now is to ensure that in 2013 John Smith's are given a fitting farewell to the sponsorship of the Grand National."
The 2013 John Smith's Grand National meeting takes place at Aintree Racecourse on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 4, 5 & 6.
For further information, please contact:
Emma Owen, Marketing & PR Manager
David Jones, UK Press & PR Manager, Heineken UK Limited