Much has been made in the media about the All England Club’s stricter dress code this year after brands, manufacturers and players have looked to test the boundaries of the “all white” dress code in previous years and attempted to use colour as guerrilla marketing techniques. The White Clothing and Equipment Rule specifies clothing and shoes, including the soles, must be “almost entirely white,” with large manufacturers’ logos “not encouraged.” Any undergarments or accessories that either are or can be seen during play must also be completely white, except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimeter.
“Clean Courts” for brands at Wimbledon
Because of its ‘clean courts’, for brands, Wimbledon is to tennis what The Masters is to golf. The commercial strategy adopted at Wimbledon, where brand exposure is kept to a minimum, means that when a brand is seen, there is much more clear air for it to achieve greater penetration because the brand enjoys a much bigger share of voice during the tournament. This is true for all brands involved, not just the apparel brands.
Wimbledon’s ‘all white’ apparel rules mean that those brands which usually do appear on the kits of players are less obvious. However, there is an even playing field for all brands involved. Far from this being a problem for sponsors, it can actually help to reinforce their ties to the Wimbledon brand, which is globally very strong thanks to history and standing in world tennis.
High levels of interest across the globe for brands
TV viewership is vital for brands to drive value and historically, Wimbledon generates high levels of interest across the globe. A peak audience of 17.3m Brits, tuned in to watch Andy Murray defeat Novak Djokavic and who became the first British male Wimbledon Champion in 77 years. Whilst in the US, ESPN registered a 1.7 rating for the men’s final, which represents an average of 1,894,000 homes and 2,456,000 viewers, the second-largest audience in ESPN’s tennis history.
IBM and Rolex both received high levels of exposure through the prominent branding on the scoreboard, speed serve and clock, however for enhanced value and impact, partners are placing greater emphasis on activation both in terms of combining experiential with traditional activation and digital marketing efforts.
Even during the World Cup, there is still a niche group that is very much excited about Wimbledon. Globally, 52% of people claim to be interested in tennis whilst 64% of Europeans are interested in The Championship itself.
Wimbledon Awareness and Interest
Marketers that sponsor these events need to take into consideration that people are talking about them. Aligning to the Wimbledon brand provides an incredibly strong value proposition and messaging pitched in the right way will at the moment cut through that little bit better, as it will be so different from the current sponsorship activation we are seeing alongside the FIFA World Cup.
The new official beer of Wimbledon, Stella Artois, has been a prime example of a partner delivering a consistent message across multiple touchpoints as they look to heighten the premium credentials of the brand. The beer provider have launched a global television advert which will be shown in 25 different countries and pays homage to a number of sporting events including tennis championships, golfing tournaments and the Cannes film festival, culminating with the line “as served at the world’s greatest events.” The Stella Artois advert has been backed by a social media campaign with more rich video content on offer and activations in key locations such as Waterloo Station, where they have utilised the UK’s largest digital screen to push real-time content around its Wimbledon sponsorship to commuters.
Creative Opportunities For Brands: Social Media As Key
Social Media is increasingly affording more creative opportunities for brands to engage with fans, particularly if they can leverage players who actively engage with their followers socially in unique and authentic ways. In 2013, there were 6.6 million Wimbledon-related tweets during the two weeks of the tournament, and Murray’s Wimbledon victory was the UK’s third most tweeted-about-moment of the year.
Adidas certainly capitalised during the final with their #AllinforMurray (20,400) and #Hitthewinner (8,500) hashtags receiving 14,600 more mentions than the #Allforthis hashtag that was set up for the Champions League final.
In its 25th year of partnering with Wimbledon, IBM is promising to bring fans closer to the tournament than ever before with a range of updates and additions to their suite of digital properties. SoftLayer cloud technology is being used to monitor social media and cloud-based predictive analytics is being used to help deliver more suitable content. Over 20 million people are expected to engage with the brand on line during the tournament, four million of which follow Wimbledon across its various social channels globally.
User generated content on Henmann Hill
For the first time, user-generated content will appear on the big screens on Henman Hill with onsite fans encouraged to respond to match-based questions, and compare their responses with the audience watching at home. Twitter users are also able to view live replays, highlights from Centre Court, players walking on, celebrations and crowd reactions. In addition, Wimbledon is encouraging fans to tweet @Wimbledon with the #WelcomeBackAndy and ‘Twitter Mirror’ campaigns to bring fans closer to the action more engaged with the associated brands.
The beauty of Wimbledon is that it stands for something; tradition, heritage, prestige and an image of excellence. Over the years, brands have tried to test the boundaries, however the All England Club have cracked down to ensure brands and manufacturers adhere to the traditional ‘all white’ rule and to ensure the values that the All England Club stands for remain. Being associated to Wimbledon is something really special and unique and provides brands with an exclusive opportunity to immerse themselves within the traditions that have made The Championship so successful over the past century.
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