SBD/August 28, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Match Point: Brands Discuss Importance Of U.S. Open Sponsorship

Esurance's CEO says its U.S. Open exposure pays off in terms of ROI
With the U.S. Open going into day three, many sponsors are getting their messages out about ties to the tennis event. Fox Business’ “Markets Now” examined a number of activations at the National Tennis Center, with Grey Goose Senior Brand Manager Bryce Goodwin on Monday saying the company being a U.S. Open sponsor is "a perfect type of sponsorship because it allows (us) to really align with the world's best tennis tournament." He added, "It's also a sponsorship that allows us to sell our product. Not every sponsorship gives you both." Meanwhile, doubles player Mike Bryan said Esurance is "making us bigger with that tennis commercial." Esurance CEO Gary Tolman said spending marketing dollars at the tournament "really does pay off for us. It's really our target market and when we have opportunities to sponsor (Mike and Bob Bryan). That's really nice for us." American Express VP/Entertainment Marketing & Sponsorships Deborah Curtis said the U.S. Open "has always been important" for the company and "continues to rise in importance" as a marketing vehicle. Curtis: "We have such demand from our card members that it absolutely is a priority for us" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 8/26).

GOING DUTCH: Heineken Brand Dir Pattie Falch on Monday said sponsoring the tournament was an "opportunity for us to engage with some of our fans." Fox Business' Cheryl Casone noted Heineken has been a tournament sponsor for 22 years, which "might be one of the largest partnerships we've ever seen." Additionally, Falch said the company "makes our own apparel," which is for sale at the tournament's Heineken House ("Fox Business After The Bell," Fox Business, 8/26). ADWEEK's Christopher Heine noted Twitter recently "struck a video-based deal" with the USTA and Heineken for the tournament. The USTA will "tweet video content" during the tournament via Twitter's Amplify platform while "constantly featuring the beer company." Heineken will appear in "five-second pre-rolls for the USTA's spots as well as in a banner unit on the video player." USTA Chief Revenue Officer Lew Sherr said that the brand can then "retweet those highlights to its followers." In terms of video content, the U.S. Open will "tweet real-time clips of exciting moments from the tennis courts" (ADWEEK.com, 8/26).

LESSON LEARNED: Prince Global Sports CEO Mike Ballardie said of why the brand nearly folded, "The lesson I'm learning is that we spread ourselves too thin in our distribution. We went too wide and we went too low in terms of price and image of the brand and so we're retrenching a little bit. We're going to focus on our specialty and our core customers and we're going to rebuild as a premium performance and innovative brand." Fox Business' Casone noted the "core market" for Prince is the U.S. Ballardie said it is "where we can regroup and rebuild our market share very aggressively" ("Fox Business After The Bell," Fox Business, 8/26).
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