Whether Team New Zealand succeeds or fails to win the America's Cup, primary sponsor Emirates has already come out on top, according to a marketing expert.

The Dubai-based airline has been the naming rights sponsor since 2004 and a senior lecturer in marketing at Auckland University, Mike Lee, said New Zealanders would think highly of any supporter that has stuck with the team through near victories and heartbreak losses.

''Even if they were to lose I don't think it would affect Emirates because their main business isn't sailing. If anything the fact they have stuck with them [Team NZ] through thick and thin means they have built up goodwill,'' he said.

Emirates has been reluctant to talk about the sponsorship during sailing in Bermuda, but said when it renewed its sponsorship last year that its continued support of the team had allowed it to get closer to existing and potential customers in New Zealand and other countries and build awareness of the airline as a leading global brand.


Lee said the brand building had allowed Emirates to give it audience the impression it is a luxury airline associated with high end, high class sports and events.

''Team New Zealand is one of the best teams and hopefully this time they'll actually win. It's a nice way of establishing brand presence and possibly preference within New Zealand,'' he said.

''I don't think they directly thought this would lead to more sales in terms of bums on seats but it does play a critical role in its long-term brand building exercise and to that extent it has worked well.''

Passengers opted for airlines based on a variety of factors, including price and loyalty schemes.

Much of the drive behind Emirates' support of Team New Zealand has come from a Kiwi who holds a top role in the airline group, Gary Chapman.

Emirates started operating into Auckland in August 2003 soon after the debacle of the failed America's Cup defence here and Team New Zealand was on the ropes.

Chapman said that's when he experienced the legendary powers of persuasion that syndicate head Grant Dalton had.

''It was probably an all-time low for Team New Zealand at that stage and it was a case of building the credibility and Grant putting together a persuasive case - he's a very strong character, he knows what he wants, he's very articulate and he's very committed and passionate,'' he told the Herald in 2013.


''That's probably what convinced the promotions team at Emirates and I was able to support that given I'm from New Zealand and tried to get across the understanding that this team could go on and win the America's Cup and it was worth supporting.''