Mar 07, 2012 at 05:30 PM
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Emirates On The Look Out For Local Sponsorship Deals, Too

While Emirates big deal to take over title sponsorship of the U.S. Open Series recently made sports business headlines, the high-end luxury travel brand is also on the look out for local deals that support the expanding North American footprint of cities it serves.

Recently, Emirates Airline President Tim Clark revealed to the Seattle Times that after a wave of initial publicity in the Seattle market, the airline will actively be "looking for more permanent (marketing) vehicles, such as soccer."

Emirates, which currently offers 59 flights a week between the UAE and North America, has actively sponsored golf, tennis and soccer events in the international markets it serves and it has given no indication that this strategy will change as it expands within the U.S. The expansion strategy likely was influential in the decision to spend what was estimated to be $90 million over seven years with the U.S.T.A.

"Our continued expansion across the country and the advent of a new brand era for Emirates makes this the perfect time to embark on our first major, national sponsorship in the United States," said Sir Maurice Flanagan, Executive Vice-Chairman of Emirates Airline & Group. "Through this partnership, we hope to create a deeper connection with our customers through sharing in and supporting their passions. Emirates is a strong champion of North American sports and this sponsorship will enable us to enhance the fan experience at these tournaments while building a lasting relationship with tennis in the U.S."

In fact, Flanagan says that the U.S. Open Series will be leveraged by the airline with a heavy local component.

"This sponsorship provides Emirates with a unique opportunity to engage with local communities across the United States through the USTA’s community initiatives," added Sir Maurice. "By building bridges with local communities through sport, Emirates hopes to unite fans, engage in meaningful conversations and bring global cultures together."

Given Clark's comments, it seems that the airline may first look to make a splash in new markets via more traditional means of advertising and publicity before securing what he termed more permanent marketing vehicles. Currently, the airline serves Dallas, Seattle, New York, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but Jim Baxter, Emirates Airline's vice president for North America, says the airline's U.S. expansion is just the beginning.

"There'll be more expansion in the U.S. for Emirates," Baxter said.

The good news for fans is that having recently received awards for both "World's Best Airline In-flight Entertainment" and "Top Airport Lounges in North America," Emirates should have no shortage of activation touch points at its disposal as it explores new sponsorship deals. Savvy sponsorship sales pros may want to explore integrating these assets into their proposals.