It might raise a few eyebrows among health campaigners when alcohol firms align themselves with elite sportspeople, but local craft beer brewer Moa says its sponsorship of the New Zealand Olympic team has proved a marketing boon so far.
A fully laden shipping container of the Blenheim-based brewery's products has arrived in Britain and company founder Josh Scott is serving up beer at Kiwi House, in London's King's Cross, which has been established by the NZ Olympic Committee as a base for friends, family and supporters of the team.
Moa general manager Gareth Hughes said the company, 70 per cent owned by 42 Below founder Geoff Ross's Business Bakery and Pioneer Capital, knew the sponsorship would be a "good fit".
"The Olympics is the height of sport and we've got a premium product," Hughes said. "From the brand awareness side of things [the sponsorship] has done a great job so far and put us in the minds of people pretty quickly."
In New Zealand, Moa products were served at two NZ Olympic Committee gala dinners in the lead-up to the London Games.
"Having the products at those black-tie events and in the hands of the right people is great - you've got everyone from John Key to Sir Murray Halberg enjoying a Moa while [they were] part of [the] inspirational build-up to the Olympics," said Moa marketing manager Sunil Unka.
But alcohol and fast-food companies sponsoring sporting events can be a contentious issue and there has been some debate in Britain this year over of McDonald's and Heineken's sponsorship of the Olympics.
Asked about the suitability of Moa's sponsorship of the team last year, NZ Olympic Committee commercial and marketing director Terry Daly said Moa was a "great company" that fitted perfectly with the sports organisation.
Away from the Olympics, Hughes said Moa was continuing to see very strong growth, with domestic sales doubling year-on-year and export revenue surging by close to 200 per cent a year.
The company was about five or six months away from reaching maximum capacity at its Blenheim brewery and had plans in place to upgrade the facility to meet demand.By Christopher Adams Email Christopher