Player Power – Athlete Success Impacts on Brand Fortunes 4th September, 2015

Player power is well documented across sports business with demands on endorsement deals, publicity requests and the ability to influence the many across the globe. However rarely has a player’s performance vindicated the price of company stock.

As Serena Williams appears in New York this week with sights set firmly on the US Open & ‘Serena Slam’ (winning all four majors in the calendar year) there will likely be comparisons drawn with Jordan Spieth’s attempts to achieve the same feat in the world of golf this year.

Following an examination of Spieth’s miss on the final hole at the British Open, ultimately ending hopes of the calendar Grand Slam the finance department of Serena’s sponsor Nike might be a little more focused on her success this week than the previous wins.

Recently Under Armour became the principal sponsor of the young athlete, signing a multi-million 10 year deal (read more on a previous Slingshot blog here). Following this Spieth promptly returned faith securing the Masters and US Open titles with Under Armour equipment pride of place.

Next the British Open loomed with hype surrounding Spieth’s opportunity to complete the impossible and collect a third major of the year. Jordan Spieth was in contention until the final hole where a birdie was required to keep the challenge alive for a play-off.

This is where the parallels with Serena might interest Nike’s finance department and shareholders.

As following the missed putt by their star ambassador, Under Armour’s share price dropped falling from a price of $89.46 before the putt to $88.79 minutes afterwards – decreasing the company’s value by almost £90 million.

Whilst the exact nature of this depreciation is unknown, this occurred within the 6 minutes between the putt and missing of the play-off. Sport marketing professionals have cast views on the occurrence with Nigel Currie believing the “share price to have grown due to the accumulation of previous successes and the expectation on further success”, with the drop merely showing a return to a normal level.

Whatever the explanation, Nike shareholders will be wishing Serena success at Flushing Meadows just a few percent more.

 


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.


Game, Set and Match: My Top 3 Wimbledon Sponsorship Campaigns 20th June, 2013

In a few weeks another chapter of the greatest tennis tournament in the world will be written. Wimbledon is not just one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world, but also a very unique platform for sponsors, or as The All England Club calls them – suppliers.

So what is it that makes Wimbledon so different? Watching the matches on television you will realise that unlike the Premier League for example, no sponsor hoardings and perimeter advertising within the grounds of Wimbledon itself are currently allowed. You may spot Rolex next to the clock, Slazenger on the tennis balls or Ralph Lauren outfits worn by the ball kids, but these logos are only allowed on the items and services that the brands supply Wimbledon with. Despite those restrictions, Wimbledon is still exceptionally attractive to brands. Sponsors can use the association with this traditional event across their own marketing mixes.  In light of this, I’ve put together my top 3 Wimbledon sponsorship campaigns:

1. IBM at London Heathrow (2010 and 2011)

In order to raise awareness of IBM’s sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships, IBM ran an innovative digital advertising campaign at one of the busiest international airports. Over 70 airport screens at London Heathrow were been programmed to select match updates and players most relevant to departing flights. “On average, passengers look at digital screens 99 times during their airport stay. The campaign supports IBM’s role in delivering real time player progress to Wimbledon fans at a time when they are unable to watch the match and want to keep in touch with the action”, stated JCDecaux’ Airport Marketing Director Steve Cox in an IBM press release. Thanks to the live updates IBM’s screens would have had a fair few more glances at the screens during the Wimbledon period. Check out the video summarizing this successful campaign.

2. Evian ball hunt (2012)

In 2012, Evian used its social media channels to engage with tennis fans offering them the chance to win VIP Wimbledon tickets. In their ‘Evian ball hunt’ campaign, which was supported by tennis star Maria Sharapova an Evian ball boy regularly revealed clues on the water suppliers Twitter and Facebook accounts. Followers chased him throughout London and once caught, the ball boy gave them a numbered Evian tennis ball. Each day one lucky number was chosen giving tennis fans the chance to be part of the action.

3.  Lavazza’s ‘We are the queue’ (2011)

Due to the aforementioned restrictions within the Wimbledon grounds, the famous Wimbledon queue, where people wait for up to 8 hours to get tickets, has become an increasingly important area for sponsors to showcase themselves. In 2011 Lavazza got it right. Through their ‘We are the queue’ campaign, the official coffee brand was not only serving coffee to patient tennis fans, but also made their queuing time worthwhile. Lavazza converted the area into a huge playground and relaxation bubble, where queuers could interact with games. A dedicated website and Facebook page as well as a smart phone application gave Lavazza the opportunity to engage with this key audience further. Check out the video footage of this amazing campaign here.