Arsenal FC sponsorship deal was Emirates’ best, says founding CEO

Airline signed 18-year deal to name the Premier League club’s home ground Emirates Stadium
Arsenal FC sponsorship deal was Emirates’ best, says founding CEO
By Neil Halligan
Sun 25 Jan 2015 12:14 PM

Emirates founding CEO Sir Maurice Flanagan said the 18-year sponsorship deal with Arsenal FC has been the most successful of all the sponsorship deals the airline has done.

The former Emirates vice chairman was speaking at the Capital Club’s ‘People who shaped Dubai series’ about his career and how he started one of the world’s most successful airlines.

Emirates currently spend $182 million in sponsorship of various events, sporting teams and naming rights.

Recalling the early days of the sponsorship deals, Sir Maurice spoke about a meeting with the then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, that led the airline supporting the Australian symphony orchestras.

“Sheikh Ahmed and I went to see the then Prime Minister John Howard. All he wanted to talk about was cricket, which suited me. He the gently suggested that they could do with sponsorship for all three symphony orchestras in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. We later added the Melbourne Cup,” said Sir Maurice.

Emirates’ brand promotion has been extremely successful, worth $5.48 billion according to the British brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance, who said the carrier’s “Hello Tomorrow” campaign has led to it being ranked as the world’s most valuable airline brand for the third year running.

Of all the deals the airline has done, Sir Maurice said the Arsenal FC deal, which saw the Premier League club name their newly built home ground in north London as the Emirates Stadium.

“Advertising never produces the same exposure for the money as the rights sponsorship, especially on TV,” said Sir Maurice.

“Our greatest success in sponsorship has been with the Emirates Stadium and shirts at Arsenal. We paid £83m ($125.8m) for that and it goes over 18 years for the shirt and the stadium and we’re told that we got it much too cheaply.

“Also, a great success has been the umpire shirts at the cricket matches. Always on their backs is 'fly emirates',” he added.

Sir Maurice was the third guest in the series hosted by the Capital Club. The fourth and last in the current series will see Jumeirah Group President and Group CEO Gerald Lawless speak about how he shaped one of the world’s premier luxury hotel brands.

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