SBD/17/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

IMG GUARANTEES WTA A SPONSOR IN MARKETING DEAL

     One day after rejecting a bid for title sponsorship from
Tambrands, the WTA Tour signed a deal with IMG that will give IMG
exclusive rights to the WTA's marketing and television rights
(WTA Tour).  The four-year deal could be worth as much as $17M
according to the USA TODAY.  IMG currently owns six of the sixty
events on the WTA Tour and represents a "substantial" number of
the top stars, including Jennifer Capriati, Mary Pierce and
former players Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.  IMG
currently has a similar deal with the men's ATP Tour, which
raised questions in "tennis circles" of a potential conflict of
interest.  IMG spokesperson Linda Dozoretz:  "IMG has a vested
interest in tennis, not a conflict. ... They have no interest in
taking over women's tennis so their clients will profit from it"
(Sal Ruibal, USA TODAY, 2/17).  According to the WTA Tour's Ana
Leaird, IMG will have responsibility for selling the title
sponsorship to the tour, for which IMG will receive a commission.
The WTA has been looking for a tour title-sponsor since the
tour's association with Virginia Slims ended last year (THE
DAILY).  The agreement runs through 1999 and also includes
international television, and licencing rights.  WTA CEO Anne
Person Worcester: "By drawing on IMG's resources and long-term
investment in the game, this new alliance will help further our
goals of strengthening the global popularity and stature of
women's tennis as the preeminent sport for women worldwide"
(WTA).
     REACTION:  The Tambrands deal rejected by the WTA was put
together by Advantage International, which previously held tour
marketing rights. The "timing" of the two deals led to
speculation that rejection of Tampax was "tied to the signing of
the more lucrative IMG deal."  WTA Tour CEO Person Worcester:
"The Tampax decision was based on the tour's long-term goals, not
short term financial gain."  IMG Spokesperson Dozoretz also said,
"They were two separate deals" (USA TODAY, 2/17).  One U.S. TV
exec, on the possible Tambrands sponsorship: "Tampax would give
all other potential tournament sponsors an excuse not to invest
in women's tennis" (Steve Wilstein, AP/DETROIT NEWS, 2/16).
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Related Topics:

ATP, IMG

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