The Yolo County charity Citizens Who Care and Anheuser-Busch-Inbev, the largest brewer on the planet, have much in common: They both sponsor things, and for the same reason — benefit to the organization.
That might not strike you as much in the way of common interests, but only because they sponsor different sorts of things. CWC is the famous organizer, promoter and sponsor of the Winter Concert that is coming up at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 315 E. 14th St. You can buy tickets at the CWC website or at the door, or call 530-758-3704.
The theme this year is the great songs of Bing Crosby and, perhaps unsurprisingly, is called “Yes, Indeed!”
As usual, the performers are all well-known local artistes who, in alphabetical order, are: Joe Alkire, Bob Bowen, Gwyneth Bruch, Martha Dickman, Paul Fearn, Lenore Heinson and Lenore Sebastian; they will be accompanied by musical director LuAnn Higgs on piano and percussionist Jim Nakayama.
Stephen Peithman is co-producer of the show with Martha Dickman and, as the voice of them all, will tell the Bing Crosby story in his own inimitable style. This concert is a long-standing Davis tradition and a charming event; be there or be square!
The concert is a major fundraiser for CWC and over the 20-odd years of its life has contributed mightily to the coffers of this modest but most useful charity. The mission of CWC is, in a variety of ways, to help the elderly stay in their own homes by making sure that the family caregivers get some respite from the daily grind; that is the working title of its primary service: Time Off for Caregivers.
With a small professional staff, CWC organizes an army of volunteers to provide its services; the charity is always on the lookout for those caregivers who can use its services and for those who can volunteer to help with the mission. The mission and programs of CWC are fully described on the website (Google: CWC Yolo).
So CWC sponsors the Winter Concert to fund its program and continue its services to the elderly of Yolo County and brewers sponsor all sort of different things to bring attention to themselves and to their products and so support their own mission. What is so different?
It turns out that not all sponsorships by brewers are about NASCAR and baseball and the Super Bowl and almost any other sporting event you care to name from golf to rugby. You probably don’t know this but the Anheuser-Busch group of companies has been an important sponsor of the Commission on Presidential Debates since the 1992 election.
You might say Barack and Mitt were brought to you by Budweiser. To say nothing of Clinton-Clinton, Bush-Bush as well as Obama-Obama.
ABI is the only brewer to sponsor the presidential debates and we might wonder why. There is no public acknowledgement of the famous brands ABI represents and no screaming eagle logo, nor even any Clydesdales, in the background of this horse race, to draw the attention of the great American public tuning in on TV. Turns out, the company sees this as a useful public service as well as a small but useful part of its more general lobbying effort.
But brewers generally sponsor sports on the general and reasonable assumption that beer drinkers are sports fans. There are no greater beer drinkers and sports fans than rugby fans as I found out last weekend at the international seven-a-side rugby tournament in Las Vegas. This is just one stop on the 12-stop world tour of the Rugby Sevens World Series in which 16 national teams from every continent compete. Because this sport will be in the Summer Olympics in 2016, there is rising interest in it.
As you might guess, the brewers were there in force because this crowd is very much a beer-drinking crowd (beer is available from 9 a.m. when the gates open). Curiously, the two official beer sponsors were Modelo of Mexico (a company that is half-owned by ABI, which now is trying to acquire the other half) and Newcastle Brown Ale; their logos and those of the other sponsors were all over the place.
I was surprised that Heineken was absent from the tournament, both as a sponsor and as a product, because they are the sponsor of the Heineken Cup, which is perhaps the most prestigious prize available to club-level professional rugby teams.
Even craft brewers are getting into the sponsorship game. A former student owns the Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Mo., which is among the larger craft brewers in the country. Generally speaking, small brewers cannot get a foothold in big-league sponsorship because the buy-in is expensive; also the major brewers hold pride of place and can exclude small players.
Turns out that the major brewer sponsoring the Kansas City Royals pulled out; that gave Boulevard Brewing an opportunity to sponsor the team with (for them) a very substantial investment and significant risk. However the investment has paid off and sales are up by a whopping factor, almost doubling in a year, and The Royals Kauffman Stadium is already the brewery’s largest and most profitable draft account.
Of course, this is a traditional investment for a brewery because it’s a good match between a Kansas City brewery and a Kansas City team.
And here in Davis with the CWC Winter Concert we have a good match between a Yolo County charity that serves the needs of Yolo County residents and sponsoring a truly Yolo County event.
— Reach Michael Lewis at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com