While Streakers Got On The World Cup Pitch For Free, Emirates Paid $100 Million

a group of women wearing red hats and a trophy
a group of women wearing red hats and a trophy

Unless you were rooting for Argentina and had already turned off your TV to mourn, you probably noticed that a group of Emirates flight attendants wearing their signature uniforms took the pitch after the World Cup Final to present medals to the players. [By the way, is there anything more cruel than forcing the runner-ups to to stick around for what seemed like an eternity to accept a 2nd place medal? Can’t the medals be mailed to them?]

From an article over at Businessweek, it’s reported that Emirates paid approximately $100 million over the past four years to become one of FIFA’s top “partners” alongside others such as Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Visa. Emirates isn’t new to the world of sports sponsorships, and in particular soccer/football ones, as the sponsor of European club teams such as AC Milan and Real Madrid. Emirates also has rugby, tennis, motorsports, horse racing, golf, and cricket sponsorships in its sports portfolio.

Emirates is one of the fastest-growing airlines out there and has been aggressively expanding its footprint in the US and across the world. Just last week, they announced a $56 billion order for 150 Boeing 777X planes. So it figures that marketing is a key component for attracting passengers to fill all of those seats, but $100 million seems like an insane amount of money to do so, right?

But let’s take a minute and put that number in perspective. First, it’s a 4-year total which means they spent on average $25 million per year, which I’m guessing is relatively small compared to their total spend on sponsorships, and certainly a drop in the budget compared to annual revenues which topped $20 billion last year.

To put it in another perspective, FOX’s going rate for advertising during last year’s Super Bowl was around $4 million for a 30-second ad.  The Super Bowl had a US-based audience of around 111 million viewers, which comprises about 90% of the total audience, which puts the worldwide viewership around 125 million. While the World Cup Final only drew a US audience of about 26 million, it’s projected that the worldwide audience was well in excess of 1 billion. Yes, soccer is freaking huge internationally.

So normalizing those Super Bowl advertising figures to reflect an audience of approximately 8x, we are now looking at about the equivalent advertising cost of of $32 million for a 30 second ad. The Emirates flight attendants certainly got more than 1.5 minutes of air-time, granted that they were in the background and not the focal point. But the $100 million cost presumably also covers advertising during the World Cup tournament, and everything leading up to it across various media platforms. So to me, the $100 million was money well spent by Emirates.

What’s your verdict; was the marketing opportunity for Emirates worth $100 million?

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