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A Deeper Look at Turkish Airlines' Sponsorship of European Basketball and the NBA

A Deeper Look at Turkish Airlines' Sponsorship of European Basketball and the NBA

BY ÖYKüM GELEN February 10, 2024 0 COMMENTS

Turkish Airlines has actively sponsored many sports leagues, including basketball. Since 2010, the company’s brand presence has served in high-profile events, grabbing attention on a global scale. 


A basketball with Turkish Airlines EuroLeague branding | Photo: Euroleague Basketball


A Short Background


Turkish Airlines was established in 1933 with five aircraft and less than 30 employees. Over the past nine decades, the airline has become the carrier serving the most countries worldwide. Turkish Airlines will celebrate its 91st anniversary in May.


Turkish Airlines flew its first international flight from Istanbul to Athens in 1947. In 1951, the airline increased its fleet to 33 aircraft. The carrier's growth and development led to its place in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) rankings in 1955.




In 1959, Mesut Manioğlu designed Turkish Airlines' official emblem: a simplified goose that can fly up to 9,000 meters (29,528 feet), creating a visually memorable presence. The airline established its online presence in 1998, and passengers can now get assistance through customer service or the website. 


Skytrax, an international air transport rating organization, named Turkish Airlines the Best Airline in Europe in 2023. The airline is known for its innovative approach in many categories, such as customer comfort, a high-tech organization within the aircraft and their other services, fuel efficiency, and their attention to environmental health. These achievements have led to many advertisement and sponsorship deals. 


Photo: Mark S. | AeroXplorer


Turkish Airlines' Sponsorship History


The airline sponsors the following franchises across football, golf, and other sports:


  • UEFA Champions League
  • Türkiye National Football Team
  • Galatasaray SK
  • Trabzonspor
  • Konyaspor
  • Sivasspor
  • Başakşehir FK
  • FK Sarajevo
  • Neftchi PFK
  • Turkish Airlines Open
  • Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup
  • CHIO Aachen Equestrian Tournament
  • Presidential Cycling Tour of Türkiye
  • Şahika Ercümen for Free-Diving 
  • Türkiye Women's National Volleyball Team


Photo: Daniel Mena | AeroXplorer


Basketball Sponsorships


Turkish Airlines has established sponsorship agreements with Euroleague and the Türkiye National Basketball Team. In 2010, the company also signed an endorsement deal with Kobe Bryant, who passed away on January 26, 2020.


Euroleague has been one of Europe's most prestigious basketball competitions since 2000, with 18 teams competing in over 300 matches for the European title each year. The collaboration helps with the company's visibility and global reach by targeting basketball fans. Turkish Airlines became the Euroleague's title sponsor in 2010 when the Final Four occurred in Paris. The tournament has been recognized as the Turkish Airlines Euroleague since the 2010-11 season and will continue until 2025.


A Turkish Airlines Euroleague jersey | Photo: Igor Petrinovic


Turkish Airlines' sponsorship includes logos on the courts, jerseys and promotional items. Even though logo replacement is a major part of the partnership, Turkish Airlines also collaborates in producing advertisements featuring famous players. The events offer exclusive travel packages, including discounts for fans wishing to attend Euroleague events. The main purpose is to increase brand recognition among the target audience. 



This partnership is important to strengthen Turkish Airlines' place in the European market and expand its customer base. By creating a bond through sports, Turkish Airlines appeals to travelers, corporate partners, and basketball enthusiasts, ultimately enhancing brand loyalty and business growth. Euroleague also benefits from the substantial funding to support the league's operations, player development programs, and marketing. 


Photo: Jason Cassady | AeroXplorer


Kobe Bryant


Kobe Bryant and Turkish Airlines had an important relationship in the past for collaborative purposes. Turkish Airlines signed an endorsement deal with Bryant to become the airline's global brand ambassador. This partnership was important for both parties, as Bryant was one of his generation's most known and influential players, and Turkish Airlines benefited from leveraging its popularity and gaining recognition on a global scale. In addition to earning recognition in the U.S., the aim was also to grab attention from the Middle East and the Far East, where the basketball player had a significant fan base. The campaign included billboards, prints, and online components. 


At the time of the collaboration, Bryant said:


"I'm so proud to be chosen as a global brand ambassador for Turkish Airlines. They have been providing travelers with excellent service for 77 years, and I'm glad that U.S. travelers, including my fellow Angelenos, are able to experience Turkish Airlines first-hand. Turkey is a country rich in natural beauty and thousands of years of cultural history, and I'm proud to partner with Turkish Airlines to bring that majesty to people around the world."  


Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi, sponsored by Turkish Airlines | Photo: Ogün Coşkun


Dr. Temel Kotil, Turkish Airlines' CEO during that time, mentioned in 2010:


"We are looking forward to working with Mr. Bryant to further build awareness of Turkish Airlines in the United States and around the world. Next year Turkish Airlines will operate four U.S. gateways: New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. We could not be more thrilled to have an athlete of Mr. Bryant's unsurpassed skill and recognition to represent our brand globally." 


Even though Kobe Bryant appeared in various marketing campaigns and promotional materials, one of the most memorable campaigns was the series of advertisements under the name of "Kobe vs. Messi," where Bryant and football star Lionel Messi engaged in a friendly competition to see who could outdo each other in many challenges while flying with Turkish Airlines. The partnership has resonated with many fans worldwide while combining Bryant's impactful presence in the basketball world and Turkish Airlines' marketing skills. 


Photo: Lucas Wu | AeroXplorer


Turkish Airlines' Passion for Basketball


Turkish Airlines' sponsorship of the Euroleague and partnership with Kobe Bryant highlight the airline's commitment to leveraging sports marketing for positive recognition on a global scale. These alliances assist in reaching out to many basketball fans worldwide, solidifying Turkish Airlines' presence in the sports industry.



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Öyküm Gelen
Hey there, I'm Öyküm Gelen, and I'm all about weaving stories that take you to new places. Writing is my jam, and each sentence is like a little journey on its own. But there's more to me than just words; I'm also fascinated by airplanes. Whether I'm exploring the skies in my writing or geeking out about aviation, I can't get enough of it. And guess what? I'm not just about words and wings – I'm knee-deep in the world of architecture studies. Designing structures that stand tall is my other passion. So, in the mix of storytelling, aviation dreams, and architecture plans, I'm Öyküm, bringing a blend of creativity and curiosity to the table.

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