Whether or not you are a tennis fan there can be no arguing that the televised spectacle of Wimbledon attracts legions of dedicated followers. take the following statistics into account – 26 million viewers on BBC and 29.42 million eyes on ESPN. That is just the tip of the marketing iceberg. Companies that are focussed on taking their brands to a global audience are well aware that top-flight tennis viewers across the globe represent a huge marketing and product placement opportunity. And that is just Wimbledon. The French Open, the US Open and the Australian Open all represent the opportunity to capture what is, in essence, a captive audience.
So it is no wonder that some of the world’s largest brands take advantage of these tennis spectaculars. For many of them sponsoring tennis pros is the best way to ensure that their brand message gets out there.
For woman’s tennis, the top brands in the game are Nike (by an enormous margin) – they sponsor 43% of woman’s clothing. Adidas and Fila are bit players in comparison with 14% sponsorship each. there are other bit players such as Lotto and Yonex as well. The rest of the sponsorship market is fractured, with brands such as New Balance and Lacoste making up the numbers. When it comes to tennis rackets sponsors Wilson has the lions share with 34%, closely followed by Babolat and Yonex with 23% each. Head and Dunlop make up the rest of the field.
When it comes to men’s tennis the branding battle becomes more cutthroat. There are 11 different clothing brands that garner exposure from the televised spectacle of top-flight tennis. Nike sponsors 7 of the top 30 men’s players (23%) in the world – maintaining their dominance of the tennis brand landscape. Addidas is hot on their heels with their involvement with 5 of the best men’s tennis players on the planet. Asics and Lacoste have four players each in their sponsorship stable and Fila has 3. There are other brands such as Uniqlo and Tonex that make up the rest of the field.
When it comes to the sponsorship of men’s rackets the sponsorship field becomes more rarified with Wilson at the head of the pack, sponsoring 40% of the rackets used by world-class tennis players. Babolat has 20% of the marketing pie and Head 17%.
Sponsorship of top-flight tennis players is big business – not only for the brands, but for the players. For instance, Roger Federer’s old contract with Nike was reported to be valued at $10 million a year – it has since been renegotiated to a higher sum due to his switch to Uniqlo – that is now reported to be worth $300 million over a ten year period. Three times the value of his Nike contract. Nadal and female superstar Serena Williams have remained loyal to their sponsors – and the rewards have been astronomical.
It is obvious that the viewership of major tennis tournaments is an apple that is simply too ripe and juicy for major brands to ignore. For fans – the sheer excitement of major tournaments is a small price to pay for being bombarded by messaging from those brands.