According to sponsorship consultant Ben Heyhoe Flint, sponsorship spend represented a meager portion of the company’s marketing budget. “They needed to do something from a competitive point of view,” he said. “Besides, there are very few brands that can step into SingTel’s shoes.”
The carrier’s previous sporting associations include a horse-racing event, a sports award and the youth Olympic Games held in Singapore.
Although the company did not disclose the terms of the deal, media experts speculate it could be in the range of $12 million to $15 million a year. The carrier’s rationale to invest is simple: The race is a big tourist event that brings inbound visitors.
Singapore Airlines has considerable access at its disposal to promote the race in other destinations. “These factors can really help the event create synergy between the platform and the brand," Flint said. "The same way Cathay Pacific has done with the Hong Kong Sevens.”
Flint said the move is timely for a brand that needed more “pizzazz”. Sponsorships help brands engage consumers and give a nice edge, the same way the Singapore brand got a lift when it first hosted the race. “It will also help refresh Singapore Airlines’ audience base,” Flint said, noting that the carrier’s loyal audience consists of middle-age flyers. “They need to reinvent to a young audience.”
The September race will see the carrier’s brand signage displayed prominently both onsite and offsite. “Singapore Airlines has always been a strong supporter of both sports and tourism and this sponsorship ticks the boxes in both those areas,” Nicholas Ionides, VP of public affairs told Campaign Asia-Pacific in an email interview. “The opportunity presented itself to us and after careful consideration we decided the time was right. We are especially pleased to be taking this up in the lead-up to Singapore’s 50th birthday next year.”
Jin Wei Toh, MD of MediaCom Sport, said the airline's tie-up with Forumla 1 reinforces the country’s fervent support to play host to the race. “The synergistic partnership between Singapore Airlines and F1 will provide remarkable opportunities to promote Singapore, with Singapore Airlines positioning itself as a truly Singaporean brand,” he added.
As title sponsor, Toh expects the airline to roll out activation concepts around the sponsorship. As part of the exclusive deal, it will likely launch promotional activity around the Kris Flyer programme and extend premium hospitality passes and “money-can’t-buy” experiences to VIP clients. The company will also use its inflight entertainment platforms to promote brand association with both inbound and outbound travellers.
The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix is regarded as one of the biggest sporting events that Singapore plays host to. “As the race places a huge focus on Singapore as a nation and host country to the world-class race, it is pertinent that a homegrown brand like Singapore Airlines champions F1 in Singapore,” said MediaCom’s Toh.