Lavazza Australia MD goes deep on global strategy, tennis and ‘Italianness’
MD Silvio Zaccareo explains Lavazza Australia’s motivation for sponsoring all four tennis Grand Slams and explores its delicate approach to local branding.
It is the most bizarre thing, to sit in an air conditioned box as two of the world’s premier tennis players battle furiously over the prestige of a Grand Slam spot – in dead silence. Crowds filter into the stadium, obediently shuffling as the chair umpire hurries them. Ball boys and girls stand diligently, militantly trained to communicate with hand signals alone. Fans bite their fingernails, whipping their heads from left to right, exploding in applause, cheers and whoops during their allocated seconds of support.
That is the tension inside the Australian Open’s Rod Laver arena. Outside, people lay with content, sipping at plastic cups with the logos facing out, like a beer commercial from the early 2000s. Brand activations define the route between matches; Kia brand ambassadors wave brochures, shaded Canadian Club lounges feature iced drinks and beer pong tables. Standing tall at the entrance is Lavazza’s two-storey, impromptu café.
This year’s Australian Grand Slam is the fourth in partnership with Lavazza. In fact, the coffee brand sponsors all four tennis Grand Slam tournaments in the year – the only food and beverage brand to do so.
Silvio Zaccareo, APAC business unit director and Australia managing director of Lavazza says that in 2018 Lavazza sold more than 200,000 coffees at the Open, and more than one million in total across all four major tennis events.
Why is tennis so important to the brand?
“Tennis talks to everyone, no matter the social cluster, the age – the belief is really a global platform,” explains Zaccareo.
“Our brand is premium and accessible at the same time. There are a lot of coffee players around, particularly in a market like Australia. It’s about the story that you can tell, and the story that we are presenting is ‘simply amazing’ – an incredible heritage Italian company founded in 1895, still a family owned business, now in its fourth generation. Heritage on one side but still able to be so contemporary, modern and fresh.”
This Australian Open marks three important launches for Lavazza, the new Kafa, ¡Tierra! Brasil and ¡Tierra! Colombia roasts all dedicated to the food service segment.
“These are products that have ‘Italianness’ at the centre, and highlight Lavazza’s commitment to spreading quality and authentic coffee experiences worldwide,” says Zaccareo.
“By locally roasting beans in Melbourne, Lavazza further cements its commitment to the Australian market and adapting key products to local customer tastes.”
Each new roast is the product of a series of land restitution programs and other sustainability projects that Lavazza sponsors in coffee growing communities around the world.
“The beauty of this project is we help them but we don’t force them to sell the coffee to us, which is the most genuine part of the project,” says Zaccareo.
The new coffees are exclusively available to consumers at this year’s Australian Open, after which coffee lovers will have to visit one of Lavazza’s high-end restaurant partners to try them.
Though the company has been present in the Australian market for around 30 years, Lavazza Australia only launched in mid-2015. Since, it has been roasting a good portion of its supply at local facilities.
Zaccareo says the Australian market is one of the brand’s most important, saying “I’ve served a lot of coffee and I’ve drank a lot of coffee, but I’ve never worked in such a sophisticated market.”
For a global coffee brand to navigate a market that has an existing framework of rich coffee culture and appreciation, Zaccareo says it’s a balance between communicating Lavazza as a legacy brand with deep roots in Italian heritage, while remaining contemporary and relevant locally.
“How we win in a market like this is a combination of things: from one side it’s leveraging the heritage of our brand – Italy’s favourite coffee, dominating the Italian market and eager to claim authentically that we are Italian,” he says.
“At the same time, I think this year it’s extremely important for us, our brand, to become Aussie – to become local.”
Lavazza’s Australian Open sponsorship is therefore one piece in a slew of commitments the brand makes to deeper immerse itself in the Australian ecosystem. Only recently the company acquired Melbourne based coffee capsule company Blue Pod to enhance its local offering.
Zaccareo also describes the brand’s commitment to culture within relevant markets; a few weeks ago it began working with the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. Lavazza also partners with the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg and the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice.
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Image credit:Leonard Zhukovsky