SBJ/Jan. 10-16, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Delta Air Lines signs multiyear deal with Lakers

LakersNoah Graham
Delta Air Lines will be seen on Staples Center signs next season.
Delta Air Lines has signed a multiyear deal to become an official sponsor and exclusive airline partner of the Los Angeles Lakers, in a deal that Delta made at least in part to showcase its high-end services to the Lakers’ glamorous high-end ticket holders at Staples Center.
“From our perspective, when you think about Los Angeles it is one of the world’s largest travel markets,” said Tim Mapes, Delta senior vice president of marketing. “It makes total sense that the world’s largest airline would be associated with what is arguably one of the world’s greatest sports brands.”
Delta will receive center-court rotational sign space, rotating sign space between the second and third level of suites, branding on the center-hung video board and rotating scrolling message space on the LED boards, as well as other in-arena branding opportunities. The deal is between the team and Delta, not Staples Center owner AEG, Mapes said. He declined to discuss the financial details of the deal.
Delta will replace Virgin America, the Lakers’ current airline sponsor, next season.
“The deal is across all platforms and very customer-centric,” said Tim Harris, senior vice president of business operations for the Lakers.
Delta has sponsorship deals with the New York Yankees, the New York Mets and the New York Knicks, as well as Madison Square Garden.
“We wanted to make sure that we got New York, with the Yanks, the Mets and MSG, before we grew to another market,” Mapes said. “The link between our presence in Los Angeles and New York is not coincidental.”
Delta will promote its business elite service between New York and Los Angeles, as well as Delta Private Jets, Mapes said.
Delta has a contract with the NBA and its teams for charter jets to games, and its partnership with the NBA is a big reason that Delta signed a multiyear deal with the team, even with a potential NBA lockout looming. The NBA collective-bargaining agreement expires on June 30.
“We are familiar with a possibility of a disruption to the season,” Mapes said. “But what is key to this is the NBA and the Lakers are customers of ours. … There is obviously volatility in the airline industry and there is obviously volatility in the sports business, but they are our customers and we want to be in a position to earn their trust.”
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