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June 24, 2022

Robinsons, AELTC end Wimbledon partnership after 86-years

Robinsons, the UK soft drinks brand that is one of the longest-serving sponsors of the Wimbledon tennis championships, has ended its partnership with tournament organizers the All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).

By Susan Lingeswaran

Robinsons, the UK soft drinks brand that is one of the longest-serving sponsors of the Wimbledon tennis championships, has ended its partnership with tournament organizers the All-England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).

The Britvic-owned soft drink company has sponsored the grand slam in a variety of ways since 1935 in one of sport’s lengthiest brand partnerships. The latest five-year extension between the two saw Robinsons announced as the tournament’s official still soft drink in 2015.

That deal was due to end after the 2020 tournament but was extended by a year after that edition was canceled on the back of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Robinsons and AELTC reportedly ended their deal after the pair failed to agree on new terms of the sponsorship.

The pair did not release statements at the time but yesterday (June 22) Robinsons revealed the news in a statement replying to a follower’s question about running competitions to win Wimbledon tickets on its official Twitter account.

The statement read: “Robinsons is no longer sponsoring Wimbledon fortnight and this year will be celebrating the whole of summer with The Big Fruit Hunt – an interactive opportunity to find virtual fruit and win real prizes.”

Last month, Robinsons became an official partner of cricket’s ECB Hundred, the short-format domestic competition launched last year, in a three-year deal that will see the brand partner both the men’s and women’s editions.

Robinsons has been ingrained in the history of Wimbledon, as its Barley Water brand was invented at the host venue in 1935. At the time, the company enjoyed discrete on-court branding with a logo and four barley water drink bottles underneath the umpire’s chair.

The tournament’s oldest partner is UK sportswear and equipment manufacturer Slazenger, which has been the official supplier of tennis balls to The Championship since 1902.

A later statement by the AELTC said: “After more than 80 years, we can confirm that the partnership between the AELTC and Robinsons has come to an end.

“We are tremendously proud of the historic association with Robinsons over so many years and thank them for the wider role they have played in supporting Wimbledon and tennis across the UK.”

The AELTC is understood to have been opposed to advertising other sugary soft drinks. Britvic’s other drink brands include Tango, R Whites, and Fruit Shoot.

The grand slam event’s other drinks sponsors include Evian, Pimm’s, Lanson, Sipsmith, Lavazza, and Stella Artois.

Conrad Wiacek, head of analysis at GlobalData Sport, said: “Wimbledon already has a reputation as being one of the most selective rightsholders, and the tournament is, yet again, leading the way in social responsibility.

“The decision to not allow Britvic to promote high-sugar brands such as Gatorade at the Championships speaks to a greater focus on social responsibility across the sports sponsorship industry in general, even at a cost of an 86-year-old deal that brought in $3 million annually from a sponsorship revenue perspective.

“GlobalData predicts that Wimbledon will enhance its deal with the water partner it already has in pace, Evian, and use the inventory previously used by Robinsons to further develop their relationship with the water brand. With Evian’s deal ending at the end of these Championships, the opportunity to build a deeper relationship between the pair is likely one of which both will want to take advantage.”

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