SBD/March 8, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Airlines Likely To Increase Sports Sponsorship With Economy Recovering

AirTran's "Colts 1" plane is one of many sports sponsorships

Many U.S. airlines "see teams and athletes as convenient vehicles for their commercial message," and with the economy recovering, sponsorship is "likely to grow even more," according to analysts cited by Roger Yu of USA TODAY. Fans who attend sporting events are "deemed by advertisers as active and likely travelers, which dovetails with airlines' marketing strategy to reach high spenders." Most large carriers "have deals that often go back years with teams in their headquarters and hub cities." Chicago-based United Airlines is the official airline of the Bulls, Redskins and Broncos, who play in "three of its largest hubs." Meanwhile, Orlando-based AirTran "has an exclusive relationship" the Magic, and the airline has signed C Dwight Howard "to sell tickets to vacationers visiting Disney." Local sports affiliation also "comes in handy as airlines expand into new markets." Delta "has been adding flights at its New York JFK hub," and Senior VP/Marketing Tim Mapes said that the airline "has stepped up marketing in the city, signing deals to sponsor the New York Yankees and Mets baseball teams." Yu notes a "particularly effective tool for creating buzz is painting aircraft," and AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and US Airways "have flown aircraft painted in the colors of teams" ranging from the NFL to MLS. AirTran has "five themed aircraft for teams it sponsors," such as "Falcons 1" or "Colts 1." Airlines' names also "appear in sports facilities, a strategy aimed at increasing visibility." United "sponsors a VIP club at Soldier Field in Chicago, with its logo displayed prominently," while Delta "has showcased its premium-class lie-flat seats at a lounge in Citi Field" (USA TODAY, 3/8). Below is a sampling of sports sponsorships among U.S. airlines (THE DAILY).

Brewers IndyCar driver Danica Patrick
Falcons Pro Football HOF
Ravens Brewers OF Ryan Braun
Colts Colts QB Peyton Manning
Bruins Devils LW Ilya Kovalchuk
Dodgers WNBA Storm
MLS Timbers Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion
American Airlines Center Heat
AmericanAirlines Arena Cowboys
Stars Islanders
Mavericks MLS
USTA Knicks
Indians Browns
Astros Texans
Cavaliers NHL Rangers
Rockets MLS Dynamo
10 MLB teams NHL Kings
MSG (Knicks, Rangers, Liberty) NCAA
Hawks Jazz
Lakers Thrashers
NHL Panthers Clippers
Red Sox Bills
Raiders Jets
six MLB teams Suns
Celtics Flyers
Mavericks Sharks
Nuggets Capitals
U.S. Airways Center Eagles
D'Backs Steelers
Suns Coyotes
United Center Bulls
USOC Bears
Cubs Broncos
White Sox Blackhawks
PGA Tour  


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