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Banking on Sports Jan2005 QATAR TODAY

Banking on Sports Jan2005 QATAR TODAY

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Published by Vani Saraswathi

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Published by: Vani Saraswathi on Feb 09, 2010
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 January 2005
Qatar Today39
By Vani Saraswathi
n entire nationheld its breath atthe football finalof the ArabianGulf Cup, asOman and Qatarlined up for apenalty shootout. When the latter liftedthe cup 5-4, there was a collective sighof relief. Hundreds of youth took to thestreets in flag decked cars and thehonking went on till early thenext morning.Sponsorship-wise, the Arabian Gulf Cup was the richest ever.It was vindication for a whole lot of hard work by several committed peo-ple. Proof that when it comes to playing ball, on the field of play or in the busi-ness of sports, Qatar is on its way tothe top.All sporting activities seems to begeared towards the 2006 Asian.However, the Games will not be just theculmination of years of effort, but moreimportantly, it will be the foundationon which the country builds itself as apremier venue for global sport andworld class sporting facilities.An important offshoot of all thisinvestment in sports infrastructure isthe international branding of the coun-
38Qatar Today
 January 2005
2005 will be a crucial year forQatar’s sporting ambitions.
Qatar Today
looks at therun-up to Asian Games, theinternational sporting eventsthat will be hosted here andthe business it generates
Bankingon Sport
Cover Story
It maybe a regional event, but the feelhad to be international.“Getting MNCs involved requires building of relationships, and that takesa long time. Even years. A top boardmember of Adidas was here recently...We are trying to get them excited andinvolved here, though the market is notas big.”
The biggest commercial draw...
An event that already has the interna-tional community excited is the OryxQuest – the world’s premier non-stoparound the world sailing race startingand finishing in Doha. The race willstart in February 2005, heading east.The challengers – the world’s biggestand fastest multi-hull racing machines -are expected to come back to Doha inabout 50 days.Big names like Oracle and Microsoftare already in, and brands like CocaCola are testing the waters...“Ocean racing has so long been thedomain of Europe, America andAustralasia.It took a lot of effort to bring it to theMiddle East, and it will be a uniqueground breaking race, through whichQatar can market itself for both busi-ness and tourism,” says Mike Noel-Smith, Director of Operations, QuestInternational Sports Events, which isorganising Oryx Quest.Sailing is one of the fasting growingsports in the world. And more interest-ingly it has a tradition of attractingsponsorship from the top Fortune 500companies. On an average over 40 percent of sailing enthusiasts are in thesocio-economic group with salaries inexcess of $60,000. Sailing magazinesrank second behind car magazines asthe most read sports publications. Andwhen brands and companies choose toassociate themselves with a sailingevent, they are looking at one of a kindexposure and mileage.An important goal of holding eventsof such magnitude is to bring moreinvestment into Qatar. Sailing with itshigh-profile viewership and participa-tion hopes to provide the country justthe right platform.“To make sure people recognise thepotential of the country. Local compa-nies are supportive, but it is also impor-tant to bring in international names.HSBC has been here for 50 years, andtheir multi-million dollar headlinesponsorship of Oryx Quest is their wayof giving something back to this coun-try. Oracle and Microsoft are bothinvolved in the race. While Oracle isinvolved in technological support - themanagement system is Oracle,Microsoft will help with education pro-grammes. Several international brandsare looking for a foothold in thelocal market.“Coca Cola is looking at breakinginto the market, as Pepsi is stronger inthe region.Multinational Companies are keep-ing an eye on events here to see howsuccessful it turns out,” according toNoel-Smith.While Oracle and Microsoft are eitherin the process of setting up offices hereor are looking at closer associations,internally several corporations stand to benefit big time.“Organisations like Qatar TourismAuthority would like to be promotedaround the world. Qatar Airways isexpanding its destinations and is alsolooking at associations with sportingevents. It stands to benefit greatly asmore and more people seek Doha outas a destination. Everything is develop-ing strongly towards 2006.”
Locally, business opportunities are being developed. “Qatar EngineeringConstruction Company, part of theMannai group is helping us refit boatshere. This is a mammoth task. Thereare several partnerships on the anvil,and may come to fruition soon. Pearl-Qatar for one. QP, Qtel will commitsoon. Sailing websites get somethinglike 200 million hits, and this will pro-vide exposure and mileageto partners.”
An interesting case study of sportssponsorship is that of Royal &SunAlliance. The insurance companywon two sponsorship awards beatingrugby, football and athletics followingtheir sponsorship of Tracy Edwards’ Jules Verne record attempt. The compa-ny sold more insurance policiesthrough the Jules Verne challenge website than their own web site. January 2005
Qatar Today4140Qatar Today
 January 2005
Cover Story
try, exposure and inflow of internation-al business interest.These efforts have begun to pay off,and multi-sectoral benefits are beingreaped; from hosting single eventchampionships to the first major multi-event tournament. The recently con-cluded Arabian Gulf Cup was the rich-est ever... with six platinum partnersalone pitching in $ 1.5 million (QR 5.75million) each, not to mention othersponsors. It reached more homes viatelevision than ever before.Carefully laid plans are falling intoplace – world class sports events arehoming in on Doha and local sportsper-sons are becoming more competitive; atthe same time local businesses are rak-ing it in, by either associating them-selves with the events or just being herein Qatar: right place, right time.In 2005, the big gets bigger and better,and a whole line-up of new events willtake-off. It is also a crucial year for thecountry. Exactly a year before the AsianGames, Doha will host the West AsianGames, which will test its readinessfor D-Day.“The Asiad is just the beginning...The games will put everything in place,to go forward,” says Perry Smith,Director, International Marketing, QSi.
What set the ball rolling...
QSi (Qatar Sports International, themarketing section of Qatar NationalOlympic Committee) won the market-ing rights for the 2004 Arabian Gulf Cup, and raked it in.“Sports as a commercial vehicleworks. QSi exceeded its target (market-ing) by 185 per cent... Though the task seemed tough, the event itself was sopromising the final outcome was verypositive. Dentsu, owned by a JapaneseMarketing Company, is a worldwidegiant in marketing sports events andhas the rights for the Asiad 2006. ButQSi outbid them for the Arabian Gulf Cup. The target was the bid amount.And we nearly doubled it.”The most interesting aspect of AGCwas that a bulk of the sponsorship wasexternal. So far, local companies orcompanies that have local set-ups havesupported events. This time around,the message was clear. An internationalsporting event demands internationalpatronage and branding.“Over the last 10 years only localcompanies were supporting events.This time 45 per cent of the incomefrom sponsorships was from abroad.Apart from this, Al Jazeera, which gotthe broadcast rights, sold it to 12 sta-tions. There were 20,000 people in thestadium, 20 million at home watchingon TV... 95 per cent of the revenue fromTV was from foreign sources. Al Jazeeramanaged to double their target (bidamount). If you take the weighted aver-age of TV and sponsorship, 75 per centof all Gulf Cup revenue was from out-side Qatar,” Smith points out.HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who also headsQNOC, has a farsighted vision and aplan for the future and that is to holdevents that match international stan-dards, according to Smith.“It was also his vision to attract inter-national sponsorship. Accordingly, weidentified companies in different sec-tors to support the event as Platinumpartners. In the aviation sector, Etihaadwas the first to confirm... likewiseToyota, Emaar, Doha Bank, Qtel andQIC... We had six Platinum sponsors.The sponsorship was worth $1.5 mil-lion each, and the sponsors received inreturn extensive exposure throughoutthe event. In the stadium, in our adver-tisements, on TV... It was a good bal-ance. Three external and three internalpartners, who at the end of the daywere extremely happy with the expo-sure they received. (Gold Sponsors: $750,000 and Official: $ 300,000.)”When international brands enter thepicture, it is not merely about support-ing a promising endeavour. It has tomake commercial and economic senseto them.“It is more about exclusivity andexposure. That is what the six platinumpartners received. Perimetric electronicsignboards around the pitch, sponsor-ship carpets...”
“The Asiad is just the beginning...The games will put everything inplace, to go forward”– Perry Smith, Director, InternationalMarketing, QSi
Cover Story
 January 2005
Qatar Today43
Similarly, there was a 37 per centincreased awareness in the UK of  Jordan as a holiday destination follow-ing Royal Jordanian’s sponsorship of Tracy Edwards’ boat in the WhitbreadRound the World Yacht Race. Royal Jordanian Airlines ticket sales increased by 12 per cent during the race.
“In the next few years when Questwill be organising ocean racing events,the recognition would be so wide-spread, and the events so ambitious,more companies will extend support,and those who couldn’t would wishthey did,” says Noel-Smith.Positive media attention is anotherspin-off. An event like this will draw journalists from all over the world. Thepresence of the international mediameans that issues besides the racingevent will also get coverage.“There is visual evidence of the buildup for the Asiad. It is a fantastic envi-ronment and there are facilities to runany major sporting event. For the OryxQuest launch (on February 5, 2005)alone, 130 foreign journalists will behere. They will see Qatar’s growth, thedevelopment and carry it all back with them.”Eleven TV documentaries on theevent are to be released worldwide – Al Jazeera sports, BBC World, Fox Sports,ESPN will all carry them.The event is not just about sailingalone, but about bringing a high profilesporting event to Qatar.“This is the vision of HH the HeirApparent. To bring this event here andto get Qataris involved. To open theireyes to the massive world of sports.”Oryx Quest is the first step towardsgetting recognition as a centre forocean sports.“The race village that is to be set upon the Corniche near the Sheraton willattract thousands of visitors just beforeand at the start of the race. This pro-vides more exposure.Another important thing is that thesponsors of the racing boats will behere, and there will be networking withlocal companies. Though we cannotgive a definitive figure on the inwardinvestments, we will be bringing com-panies here and introduce them to theemergence of Qatar,” he says.“We are pushing new frontiers, to bring a completely new set of sports to
42Qatar Today
 January 2005In one of the biggest Sporting dealsthe country has seen, the Berlin WTAhas been bought by the Qatar TennisFederation.QTF President Sheikh Mohammed bin Faleh Al Thani says it took eightmonths of negotiations before a finaldecision was reached, securing therights to the Berlin Tournament.“For the first time ever, QTF willorganise a tournament outside thecountry, in May, in Berlin,” he says.“The Berlin round is extremelyprestigious, and will attract all thetop players. In 2004, 20 of the top 22participated in the tournament. Weexpect a good response this year too,when the tournament will be heldwith a touch of Qatari culture. QTFwill organise it with the DTB, whichhas promised total support. Ourtechnical committee will be involvedtoo.”Once the Berlin tournament comesto Doha, the current Total sponsoredwomen’s tournament, usually heldin March, will be discontinued.“Total-Qatar has been very sup-portive and will sponsor the Qatar-Berlin WTA. We are hoping to bringit here by 2006, maximum 2007. Allthis depends on WTA, which organ-ises the calendar.”On the kind of mileage Qatarexpects from this deal, SheikhMohammed says, “The Berlin tour-nament is broadcast by Eurosport,more than 30 hours of broadcast.That is big exposure. All big compa-nies would like to participate in suchan event. The statistics for 2004 isthat the tournament reached 100 mil-lion houses, and given three peopleper household, 300 million peoplecovered. Another 70,000 watched thematch at the stadium.“Since 1993, foreign companieshave been participating in tennisevents here. Both for the ExxonMobilOpen in January and the Totalwomen’s tournament. And in theyears to come, it will only get better.Several local companies haveextended support for the 2005 Qatar-Berlin WTA tournament: QatarAirways, NCCAH, QTA...We willhave pavilions there, set up byGerman designers, that will showwhat Qatar is about,” he points out.On whether special investmentshave to be made to accommodate theEuropean tournament, the QTF pres-ident says preparations for the Asiadwill take care of that.“We are upgrading facilities for2006, so we will not need any specialinfrastructural investment for theBerlin tournament. We will have twonew stadiums, nine practice courts,and total number of courts will beabout 34. We will have one of the biggest tennis complexes inthe world.”The ExxonMobil Open 2005 will beone of the biggest, with several topplayers , including top seed RogerFederer, Marat Safin, Gaston Gaudioand Sebastian Grosjean.
Euro Tournament Comes to To

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