Emirates winning with paint-by-numbers sponsorship
Bumble, Athers and Clive Lloyd should be thankful, it could have been worse. Old Trafford cricket ground could have been renamed Tesco Old Trafford or Old Traffordjobs.com ( the fate dealt to Hove, home of Sussex).
The deal was announced last week that Old Trafford cricket test ground is to be renamed Emirates Old Trafford, as part of a 10-year deal.
Naming rights are nothing new and are now an accepted part of the marketing firmament, a means to help pay inflated player wages and combat falling gate receipts.
The Old Trafford deal marks the latest salvo by Emirates to a corner a particular geographical market, this time Manchester, and its airport, as it tries to keep Virgin Atlantic and other rivals out of the picture.
Emirates has something approaching a mania for aligning itself with sports, associating itself with football (Arsenal, PSG, AC Milan), F1, rugby ,tennis, horse racing, sailing, the list goes on.
Emirates’ total sponsorship has been valued at nearly $280m this year and the brand is so prevalent in this area that critics have derided it as wallpaper with little standout.
So why does Emirates bother with this splash-all-the-walls approach to marketing, an approach that has been aped by other Gulf regional airlines Etihad Airways and Qatar Airlines!
Well, it appears to be working: the three airliners are growing faster than their competitors.
Quite simply, they believe that sport sponsorship is the quickest way of getting their brand name-which lags behind say a BA or Virgin-in front of many people as possible.
For Lancastrians, the deal is just a sign of the times.
The deal means that the Emirates name will be attached to two of this summer’s five Ashes Test grounds, as the airline has held naming rights to Durham’s ground in Chester-le-Street for the past three years – so the third Test will be at Emirates Old Trafford, the fourth at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, and the fifth at the Kia Oval.
Sponsorship experts will tell you that deals of the Old Trafford ilk won’t work, as the ground has too much history as Old Trafford. The argument goes that naming rights only work on new stadium, like Arsenals’ Emirates stadium.
There is obviously something in this.
But broadcasters and commentators are increasingly referring to grounds, such as the Kia Oval, by their new names, which is half the battle. Just don’t expect Geoff Boycott to name check Headingly Carneige cricket ground anytime soon.