Turkish Airlines and UK football team Manchester United are world-renowned brands in their own right and, while they never rely on their past accolades, they constantly seek ways to increase their exposure to new fans using social media.
After a huge investment drive to increase its brand awareness, Turkish Airlines last year launched “Fans United”, a customer engagement campaign.
The aim was to send 19 fans to Manchester United’s ground at Old Trafford to watch the first home game of the 2012/13 season against Fulham, to salute the team’s new Premiership season and celebrate the team winning its 19th championship in the club’s 134 year history.
The campaign enabled the airline to gain access and exposure among the team’s global community of 659 million followers.
Turkish Airlines now boasts more than 1,483,931 “likes” on the social networking site, making it the fourth most “liked” airline on Facebook, according to the edreams blog (which produces an automatically updating chart of the 50 most popular airlines on Facebook), compared with most “liked” airline, Southwest.
A spokesperson for the agency spearheading the Fans United campaign says that the campaign was a contributing factor in the increase in customer engagement numbers online.
He explained that the airline has used its global position and sponsorship status to grow its exposure even further by using its Youtube channel to publicise its advertisements.
Turkish Airlines will not stop at simply associating itself with Manchester United. It has successfully ridden on the back of sports stars so talented and brands in their own right, LA Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant and footballer Lionel Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona. The two athletes shot a video advertisement for the airline showing off their ball skills to gain the attention and adoration of a young boy on a Turkish Airlines flight. The video went viral, accounting for 101,552,278 views.
The agency spokesperson added: “Although from a social media perspective, return on investment is difficult to measure, Turkish Airlines has made significant strides at improving brand awareness and increased its market penetration.”
Turkish Airlines has been closely associated with Manchester United since 2010 as the team’s official airline carrier and one of its sponsors. Separately, and for the past two consecutive years, the airline won Best European Airline in the Skytrax World Airline Awards.
Business magazine Forbes described Manchester United as “the world’s most valuable sports team”, estimating that it is “now worth $2.23 billion, 19% more than No. 2 Real Madrid”. The airline’s tag line is “Globally Yours” and its brand association allows the Turkish flag carrier to reach a broad base of the team’s followers.