Casey H. Moore

The Value of Flying With A Soccer Ball: Emirates and Soccer

They say that the truly great athletes never left home without their ball of choice. However, what if brands never left home without pairing with a sport? Since 2006 Emirates have sponsored Arsenal Football Club’s shirt and stadium and since then they have been synonymous with the sport. Each week the team runs out of the Emirates branded tunnel with the Emirates logo stretched across the chest of each player like the iconic “S” that dons Superman’s tights.

In research conducted by this agency, Emirates is the #1 most recalled brand associated with soccer. [Survey excluded endemic brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Puma, etc.),  Unaided brand recall for Emirates was 13.9%. This isn’t a coincidence, Emirates makes sure you know they don’t just support soccer they are soccer. When asked about it, founding CEO Sir Maurice Flanagan explained that he believes the 18-year sponsorship deal with Arsenal’s stadium is the most important in the company’s history. I would have to assume this is because this deal created the snowball effect that has since seen the airline sponsor HSV, AC Milan, Olympiacos, PSG, New York Cosmos, Asian Soccer Federation, and Real Madrid.

Pairing up with these historic properties and European titans has increased the brand’s awareness and influence within the realm of soccer consumers. In fact, in 2013, a study conducted by Havas Worldwide’s social media tracker Flightdeck tracked the amount of online citations including the brand and sports. Emirates and Soccer came in first. Over six months Emirates and soccer made 49.8% of all online citations. The only other sport that came close was golf at 16.2%


As the Emirates brand became more ingrained in soccer it began to introduce more authentic content in the way of commercials. One of their brand mottos is “Keep Discovering” and what you see in the commercial below are recent travelers learning more about their surroundings via soccer. The scenes below show two Japanese travelers lost in a provincial Italian town being able to communicate via soccer. This commercial provides a sincere and authentic feeling of love and appreciation towards the sport.

In addition to Team sponsorships, Emirates also integrates the brand with major tournaments. Emirates has sponsored or will sponsor two of the world’s most watched tournaments in the FIFA World Cup and the FA Cup.  Last year, Emirates elected not to renew with the World Cup amidst the growing FIFA controversy and the award of the 2022 tournament to Qatar.  The FA Cup partnership locks the brand with the famous English tournament at a reported $15.3m a year.  While the agreement has generated some disgruntlement amongst fans given the elevation of the sponsor to Title Status “The Emirates FA Cup” – the association is sure to keep the brand top of mind with the sport of soccer.

Categories: Event Seeker, Featured, Soccer Marketing, Sponsorship