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Ikoli Victor
Despite the challenges the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has posed to the aviation industry, Qatar Airways will continue to ensure that the 2022 World Cup will be the best World Cup ever seen, according to Salam Al Shawa, senior vice-president Marketing and Corporate Communications at Qatar Airways.
Shawa was part of the stellar line-up of influential sports leaders and powerful voices in the 5th episode of the Soccerex-SIGA Webinar Series addressing sport sponsorship and challenges in the post-COVID-19 era recently.
She said, “I promise that it will be the best World Cup ever seen. We have our World Cup plans and we are working closely with all the authorities in Qatar to host the world in 2022.
“It is part of our role as the country’s carrier to host the biggest sporting event. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve started with the FIFA Club World Cup last December.
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on the sports sponsorship by the airline, she said: “From a sports perspective, we worked with all our partners to create content because we all have similar audiences-passengers and fans. We have created strong content to encourage people to stay at home and stay safe. We have launched a number of initiatives that have been a huge success. Our partner clubs were extremely supportive and close to the hearts of the people.
“As the shirt sponsor of the Italian club AS Roma, Qatar Airways helped the Rome club raise €100,000 in an initiative launched in Italy to help the people affected by COVID-19. The Italian football club recently launched the ‘Assieme’ (means together) initiative, which sold special edition shirts to fans.”
Shawa said the COVID-19 crisis has been a difficult time to test how the airline would react.
“We have a very robust mechanism to turn our commercial branding into something related to COVID-19, because a good and solid brand will always understand the emotional needs of fans and followers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made us more resilient and stronger as we re-organised our schedule to accommodate stranded passengers who need to get home. It was a tremendous effort as we continue to play a role as a global carrier to take people to their homes to unite with their families.”
Speaking about where multinational sponsors are on rescheduling sponsorship deals and ensuring their financial sustainability, Michael Robichaud, senior VP, MasterCard Global Sponsorships, said: “Some events were either cancelled or postponed. From a financial point of view, we have been very lucky, we had great partners who understood the situation who often tried to do their best but government intervened. Working with them has been amazing. We had to rework things, not much of money exchange hands but there is a lot of deferment.” Andy Westlake, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association (ESA), said there are still some positive things for brands to adopt despite the COVID-19 crisis.
He said brands have the opportunity to re-organise sport, organisational structure into future trends, focus on emerging technologies and digital transformation, and create media contents.
“My advice to brands is about partnerships and sponsorship that last. They should not go silent about the fans they want to engage with and get involved in the things they enjoy. Continue driving digital social app and take time to build activations for a busy year 2021,” Westlake added.
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