SBD/Issue 73/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Sony Ericsson Announces Six-Year, $88M Deal With WTA Tour

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and the WTA Tour formally announced today a six-year, $88M global sponsorship making the company worldwide title sponsor of the WTA Tour, which will now be called the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The deal was first reported in yesterday’s Closing Bell. A joint logo representing the partnership has also been unveiled. The WTA calls the deal, which marks Sony Ericsson’s first global sponsorship, the largest and most comprehensive sponsorship in the history of tennis and in women’s professional sports. In addition to the WTA Tour as a whole, Sony Ericsson becomes global title sponsor of the season-ending WTA Tour Championships. The company also receives on-court presence at WTA events. Sony Ericsson becomes the eighth title sponsor in WTA history, and the first since the end of the '02 season when body care brand Sanex ended its backing of the Tour (THE DAILY).

Sony Ericsson To Recieve WTA
Net Signage With That Deal

PATCH WORK: During a conference call to unveil the deal this morning, WTA CEO Larry Scott said WTA players “will be an integral part of this agreement,” adding, “The players that don’t have otherwise have clean contracts or conflicting deals will be wearing Sony Ericsson WTA Tour patches outside the U.S. in 2005 and including the U.S. after that. Players will wear Porsche patches in the U.S. in 2005.” Notably, Maria Sharapova has a deal with Motorola. Scott added, “Players will be appearing in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour advertising and promotions.” Some of those, featuring Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport and Anastasia Myskina, among others, will break as early as next week in Sydney, Australia. Scott also said Sony Ericsson will have net signage similar to Mercedes-Benz’ on the ATP Tour, where the Mercedes logo is sewn into the net at each end. Additionally, the Tour will establish a Net Judge chair that will feature more Sony Ericsson signage.

TECHNOLOGICAL SYNERGIES: Sony Ericsson President Miles Flint indicated that with the sponsorship, WTA fans “may well be able to communicate with officials and players using wireless technology, or even express themselves on digital billboards around events.” WTA Tour Chair & CEO Larry Scott added that another concept “being explored has the match umpire keeping score with a Sony Ericsson handset, rather than traditional means.” Scott: “We are moving from pencil and paper to the digital age” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/5).

HISTORY: The following charts present the major sponsors of women’s tennis since Billie Jean King and others started forming separate events for women in ’71. The first chart represents the years before Virginia Slims returned as a sponsor of women’s tennis, replacing Avon and Toyota, to sponsor the first unified circuit of more than $10M (THE DAILY).

WTA TITLE SPONSORS FROM 1971-1982
SPONSOR
YEAR
Virginia Slims/Pepsi
1971
Virginia Slims/Commercial Union
1972-73
Virginia Slims
1974-75
Virginia Slims/Colgate
1976-78
Avon/Colgate
1979-80
Avon/Toyota
1981-82
WTA TITLE SPONSORS FROM 1983-PRESENT
SPONSOR
YEAR
Virginia Slims
1983-89
Kraft General Foods
1990-93
Corel
1995-98
Sanex
2000-02
Sony Ericsson
2005-10

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