If the World Tour Finals leave London after 2015 sponsors will miss the marketing opportunity as Andy Catchpole of HEAD explains.
With the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals reaching their climax at The O2 this weekend and with only one more year confirmed at the Greenwich venue, British tennis fans and British businesses, will be hoping that the success of the previous six years will help persuade the ATP, the tournament organisers, that London is a desirable venue to continue staging this sell-out event.
HEAD has been involved with the ATP World Tour Finals since its launch in 2008. They are currently the official ball sponsor and as Andy Catchpole, Racketsports Category Manager at HEAD UK, explained to TIA UK News, they use the event both to drive sales and as a promotional tool.
“We have two booths at the event itself, one in the fan zone and one in the concourse inside the arena, selling giant tennis balls, tennis balls, normal tennis balls in promotional packs, key rings, which obviously have a cost benefit, but there is also a branding benefit, the kids take them out, all over the place,” he said.
Over the past six years HEAD has seen its sponsorship activation gain traction in part due to the evolution of the event but also because of the advent of social media. “Six years ago we ran a competition to guess the number of balls in the booth,” says Catchpole. “People were able to enter on site, or online via our website.
“But then HEAD started its social media channels, we were the first tennis racket brand to hit a million facebook followers, and the next year we opened another booth in the fan zone (as did all companies involved with the event). The fan zone enabled fans to have a better experience of the event. It also enables HEAD to interact with tens of thousands of tennis fans.”
With only two exits out of The O2 the two HEAD booths are seen by a huge number of spectators. Catchpole says that for HEAD, as with many tennis businesses, “Eastbourne is the only other UK event where we get access to fans”.
There is no retail presence at any of the other grasscourt events, or of course at Wimbledon, or at Davis Cup ties, where the venues sell out to spectators but there is rarely room for the organizers to host a retail experience.
Coupled with the physical fan interaction the ATP World Tour Finals also allow HEAD to dovetail the retail experience with social media to take the experience out of Greenwich.
“This year we have a green screen activation, you get your photo taken in front of a green screen and we superimpose it onto our latest marketing campaign which is #GameRaiser,” explains Catchpole. “Fans can share their experience on twitter, instagram or facebook and it gets uploaded on HEAD.com.”
This year, HEAD’s social media manager has also organised a promotional hunt around London. People who identify the venue can win tickets for the World Tour Finals. Finally in this sponsor activation programme, the successful Golden Ball promotion that has been running for six years, where a can of balls sold at retail contains a golden ticket (the prize is a gold bar worth between £400 and £500), is also integrated into the opportunity to win tickets for the event. This year winners were treated to a two-day experience, which included a back stage, pass, some of the best seats in the house as well as access to the player’s area.
The November timing allows HEAD to extend the traditional summer tennis season towards the end of the year. “So much of the focus is Wimbledon and this is the end of the season, so at least it gives another buzz to the end of the year, especially at a phenomenal facility like The O2,” says Catchpole. “It can really make an impact, people talk about it, there’s a buzz, and it’s in the newspapers.”
Catchpole thinks that retailers like Tennisnuts, Pro Direct and ActivInstinct have also benefited from an increase in sales at this time of year since the arrival of the event in London. He echoes what many people in the UK believe about the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals: “It’s just great to have another event in the UK. It will be a shame if it goes.”
An announcement by the ATP about the future of the World Tour Finals is expected in Spring 2015.