The makers of the most famous alcoholic ginger beer brand in the UK, Crabbies, gave up the Grand National title sponsorship last year. However, the void was quickly filled by Randox, a preventive healthcare group based in Northern Ireland. The 2017 race will officially be called “The RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL”.
The Crabbies brand is owned by Halewood Wines and Spirits and they had sponsored the National meeting for three years. In 2016, at the end of their final sponsorship year, they thanked the Jockey Club for helping their brand to reach a global audience but declined to extend their period of the race sponsorship.
Steward Hainsworth, CEO of Halewood Wines and Spirits, took over the brand to turn their fortunes around. In 2015, they reported a massive £9.5 million loss but in just a few short years, he’s managed to take them into profit again. Cutting the sponsorship of the Grand National may have been a decision made as a result of this significant loss.
Hainsworth explained the decision further recently, stating that the team had to think about what was best and most rewarding for the brand. Though the Grand National gets a lot of exposure, the three day window for the event just didn’t seem to be as helpful for the brand. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for new sponsors Randox, who have signed up for a five year deal.
There is a history of drinks brands sponsoring the Grand National, John Smith’s bitter sponsored the event for a total of nine years, a period of time which saw a major increase in the race prize money which helped attract a higher quality of entrants.
Prior to their sponsorship, it was cognac manufacturer Martell that had their name in the festival. Again, this was a long standing arrangement with the sponsorship going on for a total of 16 years for this brand. Their decision to pass on the event was also due to the ‘challenges of the market’ which again seems to be a financial issue.
Going back further, Seagram Distillers also lent their name to the famous race for a period of time in the late 1980s. Their association with Aintree ended in 1991, the year a horse called Seagram won the National!
When you look at these traditional sponsors of the race, Randox Health really stands out as the odd duck. It’s a healthcare provider in a sea of booze brands and many are wondering if the sponsorship is a natural fit. However, in a recent interview with the Guardian Newspaper, Dr Peter Fitzgerald, founder of Randox Health said: “We care about people’s health and this is the people’s race.
“The Grand National offers us a major public platform to raise awareness of preventative healthcare and to encourage people to take control of their health and wellbeing.
“We see this partnership as a natural fit, as both organisations invest heavily in the future and we aim to use our partnership to promote a positive lifestyle and to bring enjoyment to millions of people.”
The sponsorship deal may also point to a shift in consumer behaviour, with more people than ever before becoming aware of the benefits a healthy lifestyle, which includes reducing alcohol consumption. The new sponsor RANDOX, with its focus on preventive health care, might be just tonic the race needs after 30 years on the booze.