Taking Flight: How Malaysian Airlines Score with the Manchester United Sponsorship

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Business, Contracts, Featured, Law, Sports

It feels like only yesterday that MH370 was lost, when in fact, this year is its 10th year https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/3/8/ten-years-after-mh370-disappeared-what-do-we-know. Let us also not forget the tragedy of MH17 which will also come to its 10th year in July 2024 https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/07/17/mh17-anniversary-pursuit-of-justice-for-victims-continues-nine-years-on. With such devasting tragedies hitting Malaysian Airlines within a few months from each other and the fact that MH370 has yet to be found, the name of Malaysian Airlines has unfortunately been linked to tragedies beyond their control.

So, when news came out on 22 March 2024 that Manchester United has entered into a global partnership with Malaysian Airlines https://www.manutd.com/en/news/detail/man-utd-announce-partnership-with-malaysia-airlines, it is news that should be celebrated by all Malaysians. This, coming off Malaysian Airlines posting their 1st profit in over a decade https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2024-03-21/malaysia-airlines-posts-its-first-profit-in-over-a-decade.

From a sporting sense, this sponsorship will work. Imagine watching Manchester United, a globally recognized football club, and seeing the Malaysia Airlines logo on their jerseys. This powerful partnership isn’t just about showing team spirit; it’s a strategic move by the airline. Manchester United is still a global brand with its vast history of success. It may not be giant on the field these past few years but the brand still sells; and any brand that is associates with Manchester United will sell.

Sponsoring a sports team, like Malaysia Airlines with Manchester United, offers airlines a winning combination of benefits:

  • Soaring Brand Awareness: Millions of fans tune in to watch their favorite teams.


    • Massive Reach: Sports, especially football with Manchester United’s global fanbase, attract millions of viewers worldwide. By having their logo displayed on jerseys, during broadcasts, and even in stadiums, Malaysia Airlines gains immense exposure. This is especially impactful in new markets where Manchester United might be a household name, but Malaysia Airlines is less familiar.

    • Frequency Matters: Repeated exposure is key to building brand awareness. Sponsorship deals often last for multiple seasons, ensuring that the Malaysia Airlines logo is seen consistently over a long period. This constant presence helps to solidify the brand in the minds of viewers and potential travelers.

    • Positive Associations: Sports like football are linked with excitement, energy, and a sense of adventure. By aligning themselves with Manchester United, a winning and well-respected team with a rich history of success, Malaysia Airlines benefits from these positive associations. Viewers start to subconsciously connect Malaysia Airlines with those positive feelings, making them more likely to consider them when planning a trip.


  • Building Positive Associations: Sports like football are often linked with excitement, teamwork, and a winning spirit. By associating with a successful team like Manchester United, Malaysia Airlines can build similar positive associations in the minds of viewers. This can lead to increased brand preference when people choose an airline.


  • Reaching Target Audiences: Different sports attract different demographics. Sponsoring a popular football team allows airlines to target specific groups, like families or young professionals, who might be their ideal customers.


  • Engaging with Fans: Sponsorships often open doors to exclusive experiences for fans. Malaysia Airlines could offer contests to win tickets to Manchester United matches or meet-and-greets with players. This creates a deeper connection with potential customers and fosters brand loyalty.


  • Boosting Tourism: Sports fans are often passionate travelers. By sponsoring a team, Malaysia Airlines can tap into this travel desire and encourage fans to visit their home country. This can lead to increased tourism revenue, benefiting both the airline and Malaysia as a whole.


    • Destination Exposure: Millions of fans follow their favorite teams around the world, either virtually through broadcasts or even attending games in person. By sponsoring a team like Manchester United, Malaysia Airlines puts their destination front and center. Imagine fans around the world seeing stunning visuals of Malaysia during commercial breaks or on team social media posts featuring the airline’s branding. This kind of exposure sparks interest and plants a seed in the minds of potential tourists.

    • Promotional Opportunities: Sponsorships often open doors for co-branded marketing campaigns. Malaysia Airlines could partner with Manchester United to create special travel packages that combine match tickets with discounted flights and hotel stays in Malaysia. This creates a tempting offer for fans, directly linking their passion for the sport with the opportunity to visit a new destination.


The Malaysia Airlines and Manchester United partnership is a great example of how airlines can leverage sports sponsorships to take their brand to new heights. By capitalizing on increased brand awareness, positive associations, and targeted audience reach, airlines can score big wins in a competitive market.

Nik Erman Nik Roseli Commercial & Sports Lawyer

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