a very special form of polo sponsorship
Article source: PQ International
Photos: Kim Kumpart Photography
Sixty-three years ago, Joseph-Armand Bombardier, a French-Canadian, founded a company to manufacture tracked vehicles for transportation on snow-covered terrain. It was known initially as L’Auto-Neige Bombardier Limitée, becoming Bombardier Ltd in 1967.
From those modest beginnings, Bombardier has grown and developed into one of the most outstanding corporate entities in the world, not least in the field of transportation. Over the years, its acquisitions have included Shorts Brothers, the historic civil and military aircraft manufacturer; Learjet – builder of the world-famous business aircraft – de Haviland, maker of the Dash 8 turboprop regional aircraft, and Skyjet, a pioneer in real-time online air charter reservations.
Indeed, today, Bombardier is the third largest civil aircraft manufacturer in the world.
The company’s mission statement is simple – ‘to be the world’s leading manufacturer of planes and trains. Our standards are high. We define excellence – and we deliver.’
This is certainly applicable in the aerospace field, where an unparalleled fifteen new aircraft in fifteen years have been developed and brought to market. Bombardier provides total solutions for all business aviation needs. Charter services are offered through Bombardier Skyjet and fractional ownership through Bombardier Flexjet, while Bombardier Aircraft Services provide aircraft support services and pilot and maintenance training.
Bombardier Business Aircraft division, which comprises the Learjet, Challenger and Global families, is dedicated to the specific corporate aviation needs of its customers.
From light jets to ultra long-range aircraft, linking the world’s major business centres, Bombardier undoubtedly defines and delivers excellence.
And now the world of polo is experiencing, and benefiting from, that same excellence. Bombardier Business Aircraft has expanded its sponsorship support for the galloping game, recently signing multi-year sponsor agreements with four top polo clubs in the USA – International Polo Club Palm Beach in Florida, Santa Barbara in California, Houston and Las Colinas (Dallas) in Texas.
This is, in fact, the third – but most ambitious – year of polo sponsorship for Bombardier. Brant Dahlfors, vice-president, sales, for Bombardier Business Aircraft, was introduced to the game in 2003 by Charles Ward of Idea Works, Dallas, who now facilitates the company’s polo sports programme.
“We went to the Pacific Coast Open at Santa Barbara as presenting sponsors, and received a most gracious and hospitable welcome from the club and from Ambassador Glen Holden, president of the Federation of International Polo,’’ said Dahlfors.
“We realized that it was a place we wanted to be – and we made plans more quickly because of the warm reception we had received. Then we met John Goodman, who has created the ultimate venue for polo and for high-end corporate sponsors such as ourselves. I can think of few venues or sports that would attract as many private aircraft clients and users as International Polo Club Palm Beach.
“Because the development of that club, and the fact that it was hosting the centenary US Open, were historic landmarks in the game, we wanted to be involved. Our goal was to have a continuing involvement in polo.”
And so, last year, Bombardier became one of the first – if not, indeed, the first – presenting sponsors at IPC Palm Beach for the 100th US Open. This was followed by sponsorship of the Lamborghini Polo Cup at Las Colinas and then the Pacific Coast Open again, at Santa Barbara. The collaboration had proved an instantaneous success and Bombardier was unsurprisingly elected Corporate Sponsor of the Year by a US polo magazine.
“As we planned our 2005 calendar, we decided to be multi-year sponsors,” said Dahlfors. “This has materialized into presenting sponsorship of the US Open at IPC Palm Beach in April, the Lamborghini Polo Cup at Las Colinas in May, the Bombardier Pacific Coast Open in August and the Bombardier Western Regional Challenge at Houston in October.”
A highlight of the celebrations for the Open was the dazzling Jets and Jewels reception, with Bombardier flying leading figures in polo to the event and returning them to southern California. With generous co-sponsorship from Gräff, Bank of America Private Bank, Marsh Private Client Services, Hummer of the Palm Beaches and the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach, the event was held at Jet Aviation, Palm Beach International Airport, in the largest hangar for private jets coming in and out of the airport.
The soiree was produced by Gary Soloff, Bombardier regional marketing executive and manager of the company’s polo sports programme. Soloff transformed what was a typical, if extra-large, aircraft hangar into a sophisticated, drape-lined, discreetly illuminated reception hall. Over three hundred guests, including IPC Palm Beach members and sponsors’ guests, were entertained; affluent luxury companies were brought together with existing and potential clients, all in luxurious surroundings.
Luxury was enjoyed beforehand by those guests who had been flown in from southern California on a Bombardier Global Express, surely the most sophisticated means of travelling on the planet. Global Express was introduced in 1999 as the longest-range, widest cabin and fastest in the Bombardier Business Aircraft fleet.
“It can fly 6,150 nautical miles nonstop with speeds up to mach .89,” said Dahlfors, “and operates extremely well out of short-field airports.”
As examples, a client can be flown non-stop from Chicago to Tel Aviv or from the high-altitude airport at Aspen, Colorado, to Paris. The only serious competition is from the Gulfstream G550, which can fly about the same distance but not as fast and certainly not in such comfort.
The interior is surely like that of no other aircraft. The comfort, the spaciousness and the absence of conventional numbered seats in rows bears comparison with ‘flying in your own living room’, said Dahlfors.
“One of the reasons corporations and families own private aircraft is because they are together and enjoying one another’s company and increasing productivity in their own personal flying office. The Global Express is quite unlike a traditional plane. You can travel when you want to, and with whom you want to.”
It is not surprising that over two hundred Global Expresses have been sold, all over the world.
Rightly, Dahlfors emphasizes that the Bombardier polo sponsorship is not a ‘branding exercise, so that the world knows our name’. “In sponsorship, one gains more benefit as a relationship is built. We are meeting the type of people who are interested in our services.
“It is about bringing together the top people in luxury brands, banking and other fields with those who appreciate what they offer. Polo is fertile ground – we know that people who use private aircraft are there, and they see us as their new friends.”
Polo players and polo enthusiasts are Craig Miller from Gräff displayed million dollar jewels on beautiful models Charles Ward, Nancy and Brant Dahlfors, Andria Dorler, Teresa and Kevin Jaffe Marcos Uranga, Chuck Lande, S.K. Johnston, Jimmy Newman & Ambassador Glen Holden part of a worldwide family. Bombardier is now an integral part of that family, and one hopes that their sponsorship will not be limited to the USA.
“Certainly in the medium to long term we don’t view sponsorship as simply a US effort,” said Dahlfors, “but we do want to see first that we are executing it correctly. We want to make the programme work for us, see some benefits from the relationships, and they won’t come overnight. But I can envisage international expansion in time – the only thing is, I need to duplicate myself internationally!”
He pays warm tribute to Charles Ward. “He was one of the prime movers in bringing corporate sponsorship to the America’s Cup twenty years ago, and without him we would not have enjoyed the success which we have met in polo.”
Ward is equally complimentary of Dahlfors. “He was willing to take a chance with his time and his budget, and Santa Barbara couldn’t have been a better club at which to start.”