Can sports sponsorship here go beyond 'big name' deals?

Can sports sponsorship here go beyond 'big name' deals?

SINGAPORE - One is the national airline of Singapore; the other is a major driver of tourism dollars.

Based on their profiles alone, few would argue against the fact that the marriage between Singapore Airlines and the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix is a match made in cross-promotional heaven.

Announced last week, the union will see the next two editions of the night race take the airline's name in exchange for an annual fee believed to be worth $10 million to $15 million.

That is said to be "close to" the amount that predecessor SingTel paid Formula One Group in each of its six years as title sponsor of the event, dubbed the jewel in the F1 crown.

While this announcement comes on the back of similar mega deals in recent months involving naming rights of venues and events, and is good for Singapore sports, there is also no running away from the fact that only a fraction of the amount is trickling down to the national sports associations (NSAs) and their elite athletes.

But they are the ones who will spearhead Singapore's challenge for sporting supremacy abroad as well as provide a rallying point for Singaporeans and inspiration for the next generation of local sportsmen.

In other words, they are worthy of direct support.

As of now, companies seem to prefer linking their names to high-profile events or facilities in a bid to get more mileage from their financial support - and see reaching out to the wider community as a greater goal.

Last December, the OCBC Group sealed a 15-year naming rights deal worth over $50 million with the Singapore Sports Hub which will, apart from sports, also roll out entertainment and retail options for the public.

This is in addition to sponsoring the annual OCBC Cycle Singapore event and OCBC Pro Cycling Team - two initiatives that have cost close to a total of $10 million over the past six years.

This week, Standard Chartered announced a three-year, $10.5 million extension to its title sponsorship of the Singapore Marathon.

"Sports resonate across the markets we operate in and we've had the opportunity to leverage the various sponsorships to differentiate our brand," StanChart Singapore's chief executive officer Neeraj Swaroop said.

"Take the marathon as an example - it is a fantastic platform for us to connect with the community and our staff."

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