SBD/Issue 244/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Melanie Oudin's U.S. Open Success Attracting Potential Sponsors

Melanie Oudin's Agent Believes She Will Have
No Trouble Endorsing Multiple Products
The story of the U.S. Open to date has been 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin making the women’s quarterfinals, and her "guilelessness is a significant selling point in an age when so many people seem to be angling to be stars," according to Karen Crouse of the N.Y. TIMES. When Oudin speaks, "she uses words like cool and awesome," and she described her winning match against Maria Sharapova last week as "a blast." The exposure she is receiving "could not come at a better time," as her contracts with adidas and Wilson "are expiring soon." BEST VP/Tennis Sam Duvall, Oudin's agent, said he has been "getting calls" for potential endorsement deals. Duvall: "All the apparel manufacturers and racket manufacturers want the next best American" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/7). Duvall added, "I think Melanie will have no problem endorsing a lot of different products -- she's like the girl next door" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/8). More Duvall: "We are being very selective with what we let her do" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/9). CNBC.com's Darren Rovell noted Oudin's "pink and yellow shoes she made, with the word 'BELIEVE' on it, have gotten plenty of airtime," but adidas spokesperson Lyn Famiglietti said that there are "currently no plans to do any type of limited release of the shoes." However, Famiglietti said that fans "could customize their shoes to look exactly like Oudin's" (CNBC.com, 9/8).

NO RESERVATIONS: Oudin Sunday was booted from her Times Square hotel because her reservation was up. Oudin, who plays Caroline Wozniacki tonight in the quarterfinals, has become the talk of the tournament with her gutsy come-from-behind wins over three straight ranked opponents. The 70th ranked player had not expected to remain in N.Y. so long, as she was only booked at the Marriott through Sunday. BEST Tennis President John Tobias, through the company's travel agent, Sport Travel, quickly got her into the Intercontinental. Tobias: "Obviously, we will not be sending any of our players back to that hotel (the Marriott).” The Marriott could not confirm Oudin was staying there, spokesperson Kathleen Duffy said. She said it was possible Oudin was staying there registered under a different name. Hotels frequently vie to have tennis players stay with them, as it adds glamour and cache. In related news, Tobias said he expects to announce a new endorsement for Oudin before her match tonight. The logo of the company will be on her tennis bag (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

BEER FEST: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Kaplan reports Heineken "expects to begin renewal talks with the U.S. Open soon," even though there is one year remaining on its current deal. Heineken has "kept its 17-year sponsorship of the Open even as it has moved away from other sports efforts and into music." Heineken USA CMO Christian McMahan said that the brewer is "closely associated with the Open and has spent as much money activating the sponsorship this year as it has in past years despite the down economy" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 9/7 issue).

BROKEN RECORDS: The U.S. Open set an all-time first week attendance record of 423,427, while total attendance on six of the first seven days exceeded 60,000 fans. That includes three consecutive days of more than 61,000 -- the first time the event has ever had multiple crowds of more than 61,000 in a given year. USOpen.org had a record 23,373,675 visits in the first week of the tournament, a 71% increase from '08, and 5,352,085 unique users, up 60% from last year. USOpen.org's live streaming drew 6.4 million activated streams and had an average viewing length of three hours and ten minutes. The new USOpen.org iPhone application was downloaded 175,361 times (USTA).

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