SBJ/July 18-22, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

ATP near deal with champagne brand

The ATP Tour is close to signing a global sponsorship deal with champagne brand Moet & Chandon that would begin in 2012, according to well-placed sources, becoming the latest in a series of deals for the men’s tour under its now-outgoing executive chairman, Adam Helfant.

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The Moet & Chandon deal with the ATP Tour would begin in 2012.
In addition, the tour board was scheduled to hold a conference call last week to discuss the process for replacing Helfant, the sources said. Helfant announced his departure last month after he could not agree with the tour on a new contract. His current deal expires in December.

The search for Helfant’s replacement will focus internally in the sport, with top executives at the ATP like Mark Young and Brad Drewett sure to get a close look, the sources said. Young is CEO, Americas, for the tour; Drewett is CEO of the tour’s international group.

The ATP will not hire a search firm unless the internal approach fizzles, one source said. That could mean that if by the U.S. Open in late August there is no consensus, the tour might appoint an interim leader to go into next year.

“The ATP is working through an organized search process focused on developing a short list of candidates and an interview process that will likely take a few months,” said ATP spokesman Graeme Agars. “As you know, Adam is working through to the end of his contract at the end of the year. As far as a search firm is concerned, it’s an option that is still being considered at this point.”

Helfant, in announcing his departure, pointed to new sponsors like Corona and FedEx as accomplishments. It’s unclear, however, if the revenue he secured replaced fully the dollars that vanished when Mercedes-Benz stepped aside as the tour’s top global sponsor in 2008.

Helfant is a quiet, behind-the-scenes presence, rarely speaking with the media, working largely on commercial deals.

The Moet deal will be about one-half to one-third of the value of the FedEx contract, which pays the tour low to mid-seven figures annually, one of the sources said. The ATP board was briefed on the Moet negotiations at its London meetings in late June.

Moet, which could not immediately comment, is a sponsor of European golf and the Ryder Cup. The brand is a unit of luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy, which is based in Paris.

“It is a natural fit. Champagne and tennis go hand in hand,” said Ben Sturner, founder of sports marketing firm Leverage Agency. “It complements their big sponsorship with Corona.”

The ATP’s Agars declined to comment on whether Moet would be signing with the tour.

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