Guinness tight-lipped on festival decision

GUINNESS last night declined to confirm reports that it plans to withdraw sponsorship from a Kerry festival at which the products of other drinks companies were sold last weekend.

In the fight for market supremacy, drinks companies normally insist that only their products are sold at events they exclusively sponsor.

But several publicans in Ballybunion, Co Kerry declined to turn off rival Heineken taps during the weekend mussels and music festival sponsored by Guinness-owned Carlsberg.

According to Ballybunion vintners’ spokesman, Tony Moore, they continued selling Heineken out of loyalty to Ballybunion-born Padraig Liston, who is managing director of Heineken.

Mr Moore pointed out that Mr Liston had worked hard to bring Murphy’s Irish Open Golf Championship to Ballybunion in 2000, and his products deserved to be supported for that reason.

Guinness, however, put 15,000 euro into the Carlsberg festival and Guinness spokesperson Jean Doyle last night said it was “generally accepted’’ that only Guinness products would be poured in such circumstances.

“In this case, however, other products were poured as well,’’ she said.

Ms Doyle stressed that Guinness would fully stand over its commitments to the Ballybunion festival for this year.

It was still too early to say if the company would continue to sponsor the festival next year, she said.

“At the end of the season, we review all events that we sponsor right across the board. What comes out of that review is still up for discussion,’’ she added.

Guinness has an annual sponsorship budget of around 12 million, which is spent on hundreds of festivals and sporting events.

Guinness sponsors more than 300 events annually, with the All-Ireland hurling championship, the Witness concert and the Cork Jazz Festival being their biggest sponsorships.

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