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How Estrella Galicia is building a brand through F1 and MotoGP

At the season-opening MotoGP round in Portimao, visitors to the paddock couldn't miss a striking new hospitality unit in the paddock with a large terrace.

Marc Marquez, Carlos Sainz, Ignacio Rivera, Estrella Galicia 0,0

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This imposing wooden structure was the visible symbol of a new global partnership that MotoGP rights holder Dorna has struck with fast-growing Spanish beer brand Estrella Galicia.

Becoming one of the official beer partners of the world championship, Estrella Galicia's new hospitality unit is designed as a networking hub as well as to increase brand awareness.

With this agreement, Estrella Galicia is putting the emphasis on positive impact, a philosophy that underpins its future strategy both as a company and as a MotoGP partner.

CEO Ignacio Rivera was recently elected president of the Spanish Beer Industry, like his great-grandfather and founder of the company more than 100 years ago. He is the driving force behind the MotoGP commitment.

"Having built a solid project in the world championship with our entry in 2011, winning several world championships in Moto3 and Moto2 and reaching MotoGP with Honda and Suzuki, we have earned enough credibility to tell consumers 'We really love this sport'," he said.

Carmelo Ezpeleta and Ignacio Rivera

Carmelo Ezpeleta and Ignacio Rivera

"And now it's time to join this circus as a sponsor who also contributes to the overall championship growing and improving. It is a natural step we have earned with this trajectory."

Estrella Galicia's journey within motorsport has been focused on MotoGP and Formula 1.

The brewer, which activates in motorsport with its alcohol-free 0.0 brand, has accompanied the personal and professional growth of riders such as Marc Marquez and Joan Mir, the last two Spaniards to be MotoGP world champions.

It has also backed Carlos Sainz since his F1 debut in 2015 with Toro Rosso, then with Renault, McLaren and now Ferrari.

The company is also active in sponsorships with football teams like Celta and Valladolid in the Spanish La Liga as well as music, cinema, and television. It even has a unique partnership around product placement in Netflix's smash hit original series 'Money Heist'.

Rivera reflects on Suzuki's sudden decision to quit MotoGP as a strategic blow.

"It broke the roadmap we had drawn up. We were shocked, as was Suzuki. As a result, we rethought what we would do," he says.

In the process of figuring out the next steps, a previously unimagined possibility emerged, to become a series sponsor.

"In terms of our brand today, we thought it was great opportunity. For a brand like us, who are in full international expansion, MotoGP provides a lot of visibility", Rivera says.

Joan Mir, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Joan Mir, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Although MotoGP is going through something of a transitional phase, Estrella Galicia was certain that it was the right time to back the series. Rivera explains it with an analogy from F1, which they entered "when it was not very buoyant".

"The rise of a sport depends on many factors: the country, the drivers or riders who win, the reputation the sport has. Now, in Spain, F1 is growing because we have two extraordinary drivers (Sainz and Alonso), who are fighting for podiums and are on top form". 

He also believes that F1 under Liberty Media since its takeover in 2016 has been boosted thanks to business know-how and that MotoGP needs to follow suit.

"F1 has also resurfaced because the Netflix documentaries have been created, which have greatly changed the image of the sport in Asia and the US," he remarked.

Rivera believes that MotoGP "must follow this path; learn and study those learnings from F1, see why people mobilise to go and watch races…".

Rivera does not see significant differences between the two series.

"I think that F1 and MotoGP are very similar models. F1 has taken some things from the veins of Dorna and MotoGP. I see it as natural that they inspire each other".

Making a positive societal impact is an obsession for a family business like Estrella Galicia and Rivera intends to leave a mark.

"Now our moment is to be with Dorna as a sponsor. Perhaps we share a common goal, which is the issue of positive impact and sustainability", he said. 

This is also a key part of the strategy in F1, where Estrella Galicia aligns with the roadmap towards a more sustainable series.

"An activity like motorsport, where there is combustion and fossil fuels, is under threat and in that sense F1 and MotoGP are similar," he added.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Ferrari

"We s a company are very concerned about the positive impact. Consumers demand it more and more and that is why we are racking our brains to help motorcycling explain the evolution and innovation in favour of that positive societal impact".

The world of motorsport has served the company well as a launch pad into new geographies.

"Motorsport is very significant," said Rivera, who jokes about his stubbornness in growing Estrella Galicia in the world through racing. "My company should have fired me by now, since sponsoring motorsports made little sense when we started. 

"Now it makes sense to sponsor MotoGP and F1; we are in 70 countries. We were unknown when we did it. That's why we started sponsoring. Until that point, for every three euros of marketing and communication budget, there were two euros for sponsorships and 1 for conventional media. My vision was all three euros go to sponsorship!

"We wanted a different sponsorship approach, built around an aim and a narrative. We did not want to sponsor the fastest guys,  but to support the best from their origins. We had to draw out a purpose. In our case, that is 'We are the most beloved beer, not the best-selling one'. You have to explain to the consumer what is behind your brand.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

"We are what we are, we manufacture only in one place. It is more difficult for us to manufacture, we only have one factory and we transfer that solidly to sport.

"And when the consumer understands that, they connect deeply with you. In that sense, we have connected with young people through the motorsports world."

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