SBD/August 30, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Taking A Bite Out Of The Apple: Sponsors Look To Activate Around U.S. Open

Vegosen notes USTA has long-standing deals with several U.S. Open sponsors
Fox Business' Cheryl Casone was at the first day of the U.S. Open yesterday and spoke to several sponsors about their association with the tournament. USTA Chair Jon Vegosen said relationships with the event’s sponsors are “going very well.” Vegosen: “We’ve had these sponsors for many years. We have a very strong relationship with them. They know the value that the Open brings.” Casone noted if fans “walk around the grounds here at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center,” the AmEx brand “is everywhere.” AmEx VP/Global Sponsorships Alexander Chang said AmEx has been a U.S. Open sponsor for 18 years and “this year is our biggest event to date.” The company is sponsoring the American Express Fan Experience, and it was scheduled to be "running first thing" this morning after it was deconstructed in preperation for Hurricane Irene. IBM is utilizing its Pointstream app during the tournament, and IBM VP/Sports Technology Rick Singer said, "We took a look at the last five years of Grand Slam matches and we looked at players when they play each other, so it’s not just that player." Singer: "It’s that player when he plays that opponent. We got -- believe it or not -- 39 million data points, and we took a close look at that." He added the company "worked with our business analytics team ... and what we did was use the same software to figure out what are the three most important things for that player to accomplish in order to increase their chances of winning? And that's what you see with ‘Keys to the Match’" (Fox Business, 8/29).

MAKING A RACQUET: Wilson Racquets GM Jon Muir sat with Casone and said the company is "looking at different ways we can offer a product as a point of difference" from Nike and adidas, as well as "how we're positioning the brand." Muir: "One of our greatest strengths overall is our sales and distribution. We're the No. 1 equipment brand ... in tennis. Very strong there, but we've got to innovate on the apparel side, and we see an opportunity.” Muir noted Wilson has been "fortunate to be engaged with some of the top players." However, the "top 10 selling racquets in the U.S ... will correlate to the top players." Muir: "You will see where you get the avid consumer is really following what they're playing with, and a lot of our retailers are aware of that and recommending that to the consumer.” He said Wilson is “an American brand,” but the “majority of our business is actually outside the U.S." Muir: "Tennis is one of the true global sports, and if you look at our position in Europe as well as in Asia, we're the No. 1 brand on the equipment side, so we really feel like we're reaching consumers everywhere, and we’ve really focused on building the infrastructure” (Fox Business, 8/29).

MISSING THEIR STAR TURNS: SI.com’s Jon Wertheim wrote “no tournament mints stars quite like the U.S. Open does.” A win by Ryan Harrison yesterday would have added “more wattage to Harrison's star power,” but he “ended up losing” to Marin Cilic. Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova may have won Wimbledon, but a "strong showing” at the U.S. Open “would really consolidate her star power.” She “unfortunately … let the opportunity slip by,” marking the "first time a defending Wimbledon female champion has ever lost in the first round of the U.S. Open.” Yet it “scarcely caused a ripple,” perhaps because Kvitova “still lacks star power.” Wertheim wrote to Maria Sharapova's “delight, and also that of her sponsors, agents, the networks, and the tournament itself, Sharapova moved on” after needing three set to defeat Heather Watson in the first round yesterday (SI.com, 8/29).

LITTLE BLACK DRESS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Chris Chase noted Venus Williams yesterday wore a “little black dress with a baby doll silhouette: modern enough to look fashion forward, traditional enough to fit in well on the tennis court.” The “sheer fabric really popped underneath the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/29). ESPN’s Chris Fowler prior to Williams' match said, “Always an eye on the fashions of Venus. A year ago, she wore that extremely brief pink number she said that was inspired by fireworks. A much different mood here.” ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez agreed, noting there is a "little lace on the back.” Fowler: “Subdued?” Fernandez: “I think I like this a little bit better. Not as flashy” ("U.S. Open,” ESPN2, 8/29).
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