EY + MCFC: Leveraging Sponsorship Investment to Offer Customer Experiences

Travel is an experience, not a tangible possession. For this reason, it always amazes me that airlines don’t make a more concerted effort to leverage their unique route structures, hub or focus cities, sponsorships, or anything else that gives them a competitive edge in a particular market or amongst a creatively-defined customer segment to package unique experiences.

This is especially true of sponsorships, where airlines (and many other companies for that matter) spend millions to paste their names on uniforms and stadiums, without really going beyond that to make the brand affiliation pay further dividends (and for your traditional marketers who want to blast social media for the difficulty of determining its ROI, try to give me an accurate ROI on a football sponsorship). It’s as though they want the title of being in a relationship, without actually seeking to experience the benefits of living the relationship.

Etihad’s Latest Campaign Provides (some) Return on its Massive Investment in Manchester City

Given what I’ve expressed above, I was very happy to hear about one of Etihad’s latest promotions, through it’s Etihad Guest loyalty program. For those of you unaware, Etihad shelled out £400 million pounds last year to become Manchester City Football Club’s 10-year sponsor, which included jersey sponsorship and stadium naming rights. While I would have a hard time justifying that amount, considering that it more than doubled the previous record team sponsorship and airlines should focus spending primarily on the customer experience (see a post on that topic here), at least Etihad is doing something to leverage the relationship.

Their latest marketing campaign invites its loyalty members to purchase (with Etihad Guest Miles) raffle tickets to win a trip to Manchester to train with the football club and tour the stadium. With outstanding mileage balances a huge liability for airlines, Etihad has come up with a creative way to help encourage mileage burn, at no cost to them (well, already sunk cost, rather, assuming that a £400 million deal includes a stadium tour :).

Etihad Guest Man City

How Etihad Could Make the Campaign Even Stronger

My only criticism? If Etihad were to include my social profiles along with my Etihad Guest membership info, and actually monitor them, then they’d already know if I was a football fan or not. “We have got the perfect raffle for you” addressing my football interest would be a stronger, and more personal, hook than “If you’re a football fan…” But kudos for Etihad for taking a step in the right direction!

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Customer Engagement Strategy for the Airline Industry