Since it roared to life in 2008, Formula One's Singapore Grand Prix has been a worldwide hit, and the street race around the heart of the city at Marina Bay is now the biggest sporting event in the country.
For years, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been among the leading carriers in the world, becoming an iconic global brand. Considering the global impact of the Grand Prix and the standing of SIA, many would have said the marriage between the two, announced yesterday, was inevitable.
At a press conference yesterday, SIA was unveiled as the title sponsor of the race for the next two years, with an option for renewal. Speaking at the press conference at the SIA training centre, Michael Roche, executive director of race promoters Singapore GP Pte Ltd, said: "We were very targeted about who we wanted to take on as title sponsor.
"There are only a certain number of companies here that can invest at the level we needed, and we wanted very much to keep it within the Singapore family.
"This new sponsorship gives us a bit of freshness, and it helps us go a bit more global.
"There is also synergy in partnering an airline for Formula One - because the sport is all about engineering and speed."
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and SIA takes over from local telecommunication giant SingTel, the event's title sponsor since the inaugural race in 2008.
According to Roche, Singapore GP actively sought the local carrier to be the title sponsor of the annual night race, which will be held from Sept 19 to 21 this year.
Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said the partnership was SIA's way of supporting the development of sports and tourism here.
"We are thrilled to be taking up the title sponsorship of one of the most exciting races on the F1 calendar, and we are especially pleased to be doing so in the lead-up to Singapore's 50th birthday next year," Goh said.
"Through our involvement with the world's first Formula 1 night race we will be able to enhance both for the benefit of Singaporeans and visitors alike."
The sponsorship is in sync with the airline's efforts to boost its brand, as travellers increasingly opt for budget carriers. Goh said SIA is looking at promotion packages for tourists flying into Singapore for the race.
"At this time, there are no details yet, but marketing plans are in place," he said.
Roche added: "Partnering with SIA gives us a chance to reach out to all their country offices, in London and Los Angeles, for example. It gives us a leg up on that front."
Singapore Airlines becomes the fifth airline sponsor in Formula One after Qantas at the Australian Grand Prix, Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi, Gulf Air at the Bahrain Grand Prix and Emirates, which is a central sponsor of the sport and has branding at most races.
This article was published on April 16, 2014 in The New Paper.
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