Mouton Cadet: Raising a glass with the Ryder Cup

With the Ryder Cup set to take place for the first time in France in 2018, SportsPro attended the launch of the tournament’s special edition official wine to find out how Mouton Cadet hopes to capture the spirit and energy of the contest, and what activations the Bordeaux brand has planned around the biennial golf competition.

Mouton Cadet: Raising a glass with the Ryder Cup

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild (centre) with winemakers Chiara Mondavi and Pierra Lambert with Mouton Cadet's Ryder Cup wine

First contested in 1927, the Ryder Cup has established itself as one of golf’s flagship events, with 24 of the best players from Europe and the United States going head-to-head in matchplay competition. Serving up drama, camaraderie and fierce rivalry in equal measure, the competition has come to transcend the sport in which it is rooted, bringing in followers captivated by the showcase of a selection of golf’s titans facing off in a team format, as well as the prospect of the showdown between the US and Europe.

In September, the Ryder Cup is due to enjoy its 42nd edition, when it will be held on French soil for the first time. The event will also mark only the second time that the competition has taken place in continental Europe - the last having been when Spain played host in 1997.

Mouton Cadet was announced as the official wine for the 2018 competition after sponsoring the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland, and the 2016 competition in Hazeltine, Minnesota. The Bordeaux wine brand has been an official supplier of golf’s European Tour since 2012, and claims to share the same values as the world of golf, promoting ‘respect, conviviality and elegance’.

Pascal Grizot, head of the French Ryder Cup committee, Sébastien Trézeux, marketing director for Baron Phillipe de Rothschild Branded Wines, which owns the Mouton Cadet brand, and Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A., discussed Mouton Cadet’s partnership with the biennial match, the activations the brand has planned, and how it hopes to capture the spirit and energy of the event.

Jim Furyk, Captain of the US team and Thomas Bjorn, captain of Europe, tee off from the Eiffel Tower during a Ryder Cup promotion.

Why did you feel that Mouton Cadet was a good fit for the 2018 Ryder Cup?

PG: First of all it’s the first time we have hosted the Ryder Cup here in Paris and what we needed to achieve it was to host, as much as we could, French partners, so we are very happy to have a partner like Mouton Cadet. France is very well known for its good wine and Mouton Cadet is a fantastic brand. They are not only suppliers of the Ryder Cup but they are also suppliers and sponsors of the French Open as well so they’re very involved in golf.

It is very important for us to sell hospitality. In Gleneagles, it was a very nice venue and very well organised and a good benchmark for us. However, when you are there, you are in the middle of Scotland, and that is hard to reach. Here in France, it will be different so perhaps for this reason many corporates have already booked hospitality and we are very happy with that because it will give opportunities to many tourists to visit Paris and imagine that they can also play golf here.

PSdR: Golf and wine are intrinsically linked - you drink wine after you play golf. It is a prestigious competition with global appeal and therefore is something that reflects our own brand, which also has a global reach and places high import on tradition.

What does the Ryder Cup offer Mouton Cadet that other events and sports properties cannot?

ST: The Ryder Cup is an extraordinary event, in the sense that it happens every two years in Europe or in the USA alternately and unites the 12 best players of each continent. Though it is a competition with its share of suspense and emotions, it is a friendly event with a focus on team spirit more than personal results.  We see similarities with the work of our winemakers, working together year-round and selecting the best terroirs to make Mouton Cadet.

The Ryder Cup offers Mouton Cadet an exclusive and familiar environment all at once, with more than 250 000 visitors during the game and many more watching on TV.       

Not only is it fantastic in terms of brand visibility and brand positioning, but it is an incredible opportunity to be discovered or rediscovered by thousands of golf and wine lovers all over the world.  

Why does Mouton Cadet choose sports partnerships and why did the brand get involved with golf?

ST: There was a natural connection between Mouton Cadet and The European Tour and Ryder Cup which led to a partnership. We share a common sense of values with the world of golf: tradition, elegance, respect, and it made sense to work hand in hand.  To Mouton Cadet, it is important in the sense that it leads to unique stories and wines.

PR: Wine has a cultural dimension as something shared, as does sport - the two can be unifying experiences. Golf and wine also both have playful moments and can be joyous, so we wanted to capture that and feel our brand reflects that.

How did the French link between the Ryder Cup and Mouton Cadet influence the partnership?

PG: It was a factor in our selection of them, yes. The partnership was started in 2014 but we knew that we would be bringing the Ryder Cup to France in 2018. In the past the European Cup and the Ryder Cup Europe had a Spanish wine, a very famous wine, but we thought that with the 2018 edition, it was important to have a French official supplier.

What sort of activation opportunities will Mouton Cadet have around the event, and will there be much activation in France given the existence of La Loi Evin [the French alcohol and tobacco law passed in 1991 that prohibits alcohol adverts on television or in cinemas]?

PG: It’s very difficult to have brand exposure in France when we are talking about alcohol so we will encourage many customers on site during the Ryder Cup in the hospitality areas and we will organise off-site events. Each night, we are going to organise dinners. I think the opportunity to sponsor an event like the Ryder Cup is great for a brand like Mouton Cadet – firstly, they are not doing only this edition, they did it in 2014 and 2016 already and I think it has opened many gates in the US because there are so many golfers there.

ST: As official wine of the Ryder Cup, Mouton Cadet will be served at all the official events during the competition and at hospitality points. A Mouton Cadet wine bar will be open to the public on the ground and we will also have access to a lounge to hosts our clients.

With regards to the Loi Evin, it means that we cannot communicate in France about the partnership but we will do so in other markets, always respecting the legislation on the given market.

How will Mouton Cadet's activations differ from those around other major events in entertainment, for example? And how will they differ from other Ryder Cup events in the past?

ST: The big difference is that the Ryder Cup will be held in Paris this year, which is close to home! Otherwise, our actions will be very similar to previous Ryder Cups or major events. To celebrate the Ryder Cup 2018, a unique blend of Mouton Cadet was created by the American winemaker Chiara Mondavi and the Frenchman Pierre Lambert, master winemaker of Mouton Cadet. It is available in selected countries now and will be at Le Golf National during the competition.  

What do you think will make this edition of the Ryder Cup stand out in France?

PG: First of all, I think that it’s the first time the Ryder Cup has been organised close to a main city so it gives a lot of opportunities. For example, we know that many Americans already bought tickets and it’s because Paris is the venue. It’s a popular city - you have 25 million golfers in the US, so many Americans will come because it’s the Ryder Cup and also because it’s in Paris and it’s very easy for them to travel there. They know that they will find all that they like here!