Smart Tennis Sponsorship Activations 25th November, 2013

After winning the Barclays World Tour Finals for the second time in 2 years at the O2 Arena last week in London, World Number 2, Novak Djokovic, once again thanked the sponsors for their generosity. At this event alone, Djokovic took home $1.9 million, which increased his career prize money to a staggering $58 million.

Taking into consideration the need for significant prize funds to attract the world’s best players and operating a global calendar of events, large sponsors are vital to the framework.  With an increase in the amount of money required to sponsor, it is becoming ever more apparent for brands to differentiate in order to generate significant ROI at these events through activation.

Here are some of our favourites:

1.  Barclays Ball Kids, Barclays World Tour Finals 2010-2013

Ball kids are a permanent fixture of any major tournament tennis court. The kids themselves are often branded with large commercial logos, essentially resembling a moving advertising board.  Consequently, the ball kids are clearly projected to the live audience and across television networks.

Barclays developed this common concept to go one step further to promote its title sponsorship. A campaign around the ball kids was initiated in 2010 to create a story of how each ball kid is selected. The ‘Barclays Ball Kids’ campaign has selected children from 45 regionalised events held around the UK, attracting 6,500 applicants. Their progress is followed by regionalised media and social media until the final 30 reach London for the event. ‘Barclays Ball Kids’ has become a strong identity and is further underpinned at the event with the kids participating in activities with celebrity ambassadors, creating additional coverage by host broadcasters and national media.

Barclays Ball Kids resulted in an awareness of 77% from attendees and generated £1.5 million in media value.

2.  LV Insurance – Hawkeye Challenge Counter, Statoil Tennis Masters 2012

As a supporting partner, LV Insurance secured the right to brand the live scoreboard.  Rather than the typical logo placement, LV went one step further and found a unique way to add value to the audiences’ (and players’) experience during the Statoil Tennis Masters.  Utilising the Hawkeye system, a computer generated review of potentially bad calls made by umpires, LV harnessed the excitement of the audience every time Hawkeye was used by making a donation of £100 to the charity Centerpoint which supports homeless children.

Charitable donations through challenges excited and involved fans like never before – the more challenges they encouraged players to request, the more money they helped the charity raise. Such was the engagement that John McEnroe himself felt free to exhaust his allocation of challenges to generate more money for the charity and play into the audience encouragement.

By tapping into audience engagement, LV Insurance were able to utilise what is typically a small benefit to turn it into something that shaped the way the event, players and audience experienced the matches.

3. Corona Lounges, multiple events, 5 year agreement from 2010

Alcohol brands are well established at sporting events and have a natural association to provide beer beverages to thirsty spectators. However, spectators are accustomed to not having a choice of beer beverages at events, so the choice requires less brand association – they just want ‘a beer’. As such, it is vital to make a difference through activation.

Corona understood this and throughout their tenure as Premier Partner to the ATP Tour focused on creating the ultimate Corona Experience.  Locally themed Corona lounges at point-of-sale were set up on site open to all in order to facilitate a sanctuary – driving through the brand values of the beer itself.