SBJ/April 1 - 7, 2002/Marketingsponsorship

Sanex delays decision on ending its WTA sponsorship

European body-care brand Sanex has postponed a decision on whether to exit its $34 million title sponsorship of the WTA Tour at the end of the year. The five-year deal gives Sanex, a Sara Lee unit, the option to skip the last two years, a move that is still widely expected.

The deadline for the decision was today, but sources said late last week that the two sides agreed to delay the decision for an undisclosed period of time.

It is unclear whether the postponement is merely a logistical matter of getting Sanex's many operating units worldwide to sign off on the termination, or whether the firm is having second thoughts about ending the deal.

Kevin Wulff, the WTA's chief executive, said before the postponement decision that Sanex is re-evaluating how it sponsors tennis.

"The fact that they won't roll out their product in the U.S. for a period of time, there are discussions going on that will better meet their objectives," Wulff said.

Sanex declined to comment.

A little-known body-care brand at the time, Sanex announced the sponsorship to great fanfare in November 1999.

The sponsorship, however, did not include North American rights, and Sanex never seemed entirely pleased with the deal. Top players balked at wearing the Sanex WTA patch, and the nature of the sponsorship gave Sanex few tangible rights other than general branding.

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Marketing and Sponsorship, Sanex, WTA

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