Turkish Airlines’ highly visible sponsorship of Fox's pregame show raised some eyebrows on social media, given both the current political climate in the United States and the situation in Turkey, where authoritarian policies and a crackdown on free speech over the last two years have drawn criticism from the West.
Turkish Airlines, which is partly privatized but remains largely a state-owned company, has dabbled in Americans sport sponsorships before and had an endorsement deal with Kobe Bryant.
But the advertisements drew significant attention Sunday, particularly given President Trump’s executive order last weekend that targeted travel from seven Muslim-majority countries (Turkey wasn’t one of them).
How we gonna ban Muslims from coming to America and then have Turkish Airlines sponsor the #SuperBowl pregame show?— Z (@iGOby_Z) February 5, 2017
You know it is a global economy when Turkish Airlines is sponsoring part of the Super Bowl #SB51— Kevin Eikenberry (@KevinEikenberry) February 5, 2017
The Super Bowl sponsorship was part of a larger marketing tie-in for Turkish Airlines, which was making the Super Bowl broadcast available on all flights Sunday that had an Internet connection. The deal to sponsor the Super Bowl was signed in early 2016 as part of a global strategy for Turkish Airlines aimed at major sporting events.
“We not only carry our guests to the most countries worldwide, but we also aim to organize a flight that offers the best passenger experience at the highest level. We are excited to offer American Football experience with Super Bowl to our passengers at thousands of feet of elevation, and also debut our new commercial video on this broadcast,” Turkish Airlines chief marketing officer Ahmet Olmustur said in a release.