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
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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