SBD/May 24, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Cultural Divides Cause Struggle Between Using French Open Or Roland Garros Moniker

Official Twitter feeds for the tournament are only labeled with the name Roland Garros
Tennis fans using Twitter will find the monikers French Open and Roland Garros “reflected over the next two weeks in the abbreviated hash tags #RG13 and #FO13,” according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. French speakers “call the tournament, not just the stadium in which it is played, Roland Garros.” English speakers "still overwhelmingly favor French Open.” Event officials “have long hoped” China would “follow their lead.” But French Tennis Federation Communications & Marketing Dir Edouard-Vincent Caloni, whose organization operates the tourney, said, “The studies we’ve seen tell us that the translation of ‘Roland Garros’ in China clearly demonstrates that it’s mission impossible. It’s a linguistic barrier not just a marketing problem.”’ He added, “We know that tomorrow we are not going to say, ‘Stop calling us the French Open, call us Roland Garros!’ to two, three, five or eight million British fans who are crazy about tennis and to even more Americans." Clarey noted there is “no official Twitter feed labeled ‘French Open,’ only @rolandgarros in English and @rolandgarrosFR in French.” The site frenchopen.com was "eliminated” in ’08. Caloni said that “what exists now is rolandgarros.com in English, French and Mandarin.” He noted that the “dual identity of the tournament is not without a price.” Caloni also said that there is “no such thing as a licensed product line labeled French Open, which means that fans in, for example, North America, Australia, Britain and British-influenced India have a dearth of merchandise.” Caloni feels that a lack of licensed product is “costing the French Open market share" in the U.S. compared with the other three Grand Slam events. But he said that the FTF was “examining the possibility of starting a French Open line that would complement rather than compete with the Roland Garros line and probably be targeted at high-end consumers with the focus on luxury” (NYTIMES.com, 5/23).
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