According to the latest announcement posted on Leicester City football club’s official website, ThaiBev’s subsidiary company, Sabeco, becomes Leicester City’s official sleeve sponsor, meaning its logo will adorn the famous shirts in every fixture throughout the 2018/19 season as the Foxes look to embark on another historic year.
Sabeco is the leading Vietnamese beer brand and produces 1.59 billion litres of output per year. The export beer’s brand will appear throughout King Power Stadium, across interview backdrops and digital advertising boards.
This is not the first time a brand of a Vietnamese company has appeared in the Premier League. Last year, the brands of BPhone, Ton Dong A, Ton Nam Kim were also present on the advertising boards in the Premier League fixtures.
Previously, Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group was the first company to display its advertisements in the Premier League matches under the cooperation program with Arsenal and JMG Academy.
Introducing Saigon Beer to England is the latest move of ThaiBev after it spent nearly $5 billion on purchasing a 54-per cent stake in Vietnam's biggest beer producer last year.
However, ThaiBev's purpose of promoting Saigon Beer in England is not aimed at exporting this beer product to the English market.
In England, football fan culture is often accompanied by the enjoyment of alcoholic drinks like beer and spirits. If supporters cannot get tickets, they will go to small beer gardens near the stadium. This allows them to enjoy the match without losing the excitement inside the stadium.
In many matches, supporters of away team will be given priority to buy tickets to enjoy the matches while the home team supporters will sit at beer gardens to watch the games on TV.
English citizens have loved beer since ancient times. It is documented that, since the 12th century, the Angles have been drinking beer instead of water. Of course, the English people are very conservative, too. The beer they drink is often craft beer produced in small scale or by some long-standing brands in the country. And this tradition has been preserved for centuries, so far.
It means that in case Thaibev spends a huge amount on advertising Sai Gon Beer brand, it will be still difficult to change the taste and habits of the English people. So, even the most optimistic people do not think that it is a good way for ThaiBev to sell Vietnamese beer to the world's leading brewer.
In terms of communication, experts call this "reverse effect". It means that ThaiBev promotes Saigon Beer brand in England, in essence, to sell it more to football supporters in Vietnam as well as in Asia.
The Premier League is a professional football league with wide coverage. In Vietnam, the Premier League has become the most popular league for many years thanks to the professional and dramatic matches. Many star players in the Premier League even have more Vietnamese fans than the domestic players do.
The image of Saigon Beer brand associated with the English Premier League, namely Leicester City, which defeated big clubs as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea to become the Premier League champions in the 2015/16 season, will further promote branding and expand coverage in Vietnam and other regional markets.
In fact, ThaiBev's communication style is not new. However, this move of ThaiBev is more daring than other firms did before.