By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi airline announces first major sports sponsorship in India since its partnership with Jet Airways
Etihad Airways and its Indian equity partner, Jet Airways, have been named as the new principal sponsors of the Mumbai Indians cricket team.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline said this is its first high profile sports sponsorship in the region and one that "underscores its expanding commitment to the Indian market".
A franchise cricket team of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Mumbai Indians are the largest social sports brand in India.
Crowned as champions of the 2013 IPL, the Mumbai Indians will be playing in the Pepsi IPL 2014 Tournament whose first 20 matches will be hosted in the UAE.
James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways, said: “As India continues to play an important part in the growth of Etihad Airways, this new sponsorship deal provides an excellent opportunity for us to reinforce our global brand in India, cement our partnership with Jet Airways and forge close and long-lasting relationships with the Indian travelling public, many of whom we know are huge cricket fans.
“Sport sponsorships form a major part of Etihad’s international marketing strategy. We are delighted to add the Mumbai Indians, the reigning champions of the Indian Premier League, to our growing portfolio of global sporting associations.”
Etihad Airways sponsorship portfolio includes, Manchester City Football Club, the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Etihad Stadium in Manchester, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Harlequins Rugby Club, GAA Hurling All Ireland Senior Championship, and most recently the Major League Soccer in the US.
Etihad Airways currently serves a total of 10 Indian cities which includes Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi, Trivandrum and the recently launched route to Jaipur.
Among the highlights of the sponsorship agreement will be the display of extensive Etihad Airways and Jet Airways branding and messaging beamed across LED pitch-side advertising and on giant screens in the stadium.
This will occur during the Mumbai Indians home matches including the tournament’s first game which will be played at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. In addition, the airlines’ logos will be displayed on the team's shirts and merchandise.
Naresh Goyal, chairman of Jet Airways, said: “We are excited to team up with Etihad Airways to sponsor the Mumbai Indians, as they prepare to take part in one of crickets’ most high profile tournaments featuring top cricketers from all over the world.
"Cricket is a hugely popular sport around the world and especially in India. Sponsoring an all-star cricket team like the Mumbai Indians will surely provide our airlines with fantastic brand exposure on a global level and offer an impressive platform to connect with our customers while at the same time engaging with the community.”