With London 2012 fast approaching, EY were presented with an intriguing offer : naming rights to London City Airport. Intriguing because an entirely left-field proposal but one designed to deliver unique visibility during London 2012 as the airport fell outside of London’s branding restrictions. But the sales price, a hefty £5M PA, gave pause for thought. EY invited us in to set the brief : assess the opportunity.
The starting point was to understand the full extent of the rights on offer, through an extensive site visit and access to London City Airport’s detailed customer data. The customer data showed clearly that LCA lived up to its expectations as the ‘City’ airport, with over 65% of fliers holding senior business positions in the south of England – the perfect audience for EY.
The second phase was to understand how EY could actively engage with its audience – looking beyond mere branding and visibility to active engagement. The main platform was a 7m x 7m space in the passenger lounge, uniquely accessible to EY. To guarantee relevance, we sourced at the time one of the best touchscreens manufacturers in the world, capable of supplying 14 1m x 1m modules. This screen would not only be used to deliver branding but allow users to access vital travel, destination and business information on an individual basis. Additionally, we negotiated a provisional licensing agreement to allow the near field downloading of Condé Nast titles. The screen provided visibility, entertainment and relevant functionality, in other words.
The third point was to explore the naming rights and how to ensure EY was retained in daily usage so we contracted a psycholinguist from Edinburgh University to advise us on abbreviation patterns. London City Airport is the full name but frequently shortened to City Airport in practice. Our recommendation was for the sponsored name to be EY City – acknowledging the existing contraction and making the name easier to say.
We extracted additional value in terms of access to VIP channels through security, immigration and customs – and securing a permanent on site venue for EY to host meetings, reducing the need for visitors to go into London for urgent turnaround meetings. We also secured additional branding to enhance visibility from the air and from either side of the Thames.
We conducted a benchmarking exercise and an approximate media valuation but recognising that naming rights are a unique category of right. Our recommendation was a qualified yes, based on modelling EY ability to engage with LCA airport business guests. Qualified, because a commitment to change the name to the format required was a non-negotiable – but also because a full commitment to activation was an internal requirement.
The recommendation was studied by the Executive Committee of EY but budgetary constraints prevented EY from progressing. London City Airport never found its naming partner.