25 Oct

Dubai based DP World’s reputation was built as a port operator. Founded in 1972, it has expanded along the supply chain in recent years and now wants to challenge the likes of DHL and Fedex as a full-service logistics company.

The company now runs a network of 127 business units – ports, parks, logistics, economic zones and marine services – in 51 countries.

In order to accelerate this process, the brand has entered into three high-profile sport sponsorships over recent years. Whilst the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic may have deterred some brands from engaging with the sports industry, DP World’s resolve to build its reputation in the space remains strong.

A partnership with global marketing agency CSM Sports & Entertainment has been signed to support DP World’s commercial interests in sport and chief communications officer Daniel Van Otterdijk indicates the industry will continue to be a key pillar of the company’s marketing strategy.

Although he admits the lack of opportunity to leverage hospitality assets is a challenge, he told SportBusiness: “You need these platforms more than ever to remain visible and engage with those customers you’re trying to attract.

“If I’m honest I don’t think it [the Covid-19 pandemic] has altered our strategy at all. We still need to build DP World as a brand. If anything, Covid-19 has strengthened the resolve to build greater relevance.”

The brand’s long-term partnership with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) IPL franchise is its most recently agreed sponsorship deal.

Whilst the agreement was announced in September 2020, DP World were in discussions with RCB long before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold and delayed the 2020 IPL season.

Market experts believed the agreement to be worth between $1m-$1.4m per season. The agreement grants DP World visibility on the back of the RCB playing shirts and training wear, but many of the company’s activation plans have now had to be adjusted or delayed, particularly regarding player access.

A particular attraction of the partnership for DP World was the chance to leverage the popularity and voice of franchise captain and Indian cricket superstar Virat Kohli. The plan had been to make Kohli an ambassador of DP World and centre activation campaigns around the 31-year-old batsman, but this has been put on hold due to the impact of the pandemic.

Van Otterdijk tells SportBusiness: “We won’t get as much value as before this season but that’s the reality for everyone. We’ve tried to adapt and generate internal excitement.

“With the prevailing situation, there’s very little we can do to expand on broadcast assets, but we have to adapt like everyone.”

India remains a key target market for its expansion plans and sponsorship of an IPL team with the pulling power of the likes of Kohli is viewed as a way of building its name in the country where its business now handles a quarter of the country’s total container trade volumes.

“We have a plethora of logistics facilities in India, it’s crucial to build our presence there, and the IPL is a fantastic platform for that.”

Van Otterdijk also stresses how most DP World’s sponsorship deals have a business-to-business element. Multinational Diageo’s ownership of RCB was therefore key in identifying it as the IPL franchise to partner with, opening the door for DP World to leverage the association for further business opportunities.

DP World also partners Renault F1 and in 2015 acquired the title sponsorship rights to golf’s European Tour season ending Race to Dubai finale, the DP World Tour Championship, a partnership they hope to continue.

John Stephenson


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