Channelling the power of brand Wimbledon
It’s that time of year again – morning light peeking through the blinds, longer evenings and finally some decent weather. The World Cup is definitely dominating summer sport, but that's not to say that we have forgotten about another mid-year favourite, Wimbledon.
Founded in 1877, the world’s most distinguished tennis tournament is still going strong. And it’s big business too. Wimbledon’s audience figures are particularly striking, with estimates putting global news access at over 1bn people in 200 territories. With its winning combination of international reach, long history and unrivalled sophistication, it's no wonder brands clamour to get involved.
So if you're a brand, how do you get in on the action? First off, it helps to already be at the top of your game. Wimbledon doesn’t let just anybody tap into its special brand of tennis chic. Its list of official suppliers – Jaguar, Rolex, Ralph Lauren (to name just a few) – are major players in their own right. Brands like this obviously benefit from partnering with Wimbledon, however they’re no doubt an asset to the sporting event too.
That said, there are other rather different relationships at work. Take Slazenger, which has been providing Wimbledon’s tennis balls since players started requesting them in 1902. Of course, back then it might well have been the only real choice. In any case, that image has sustained, and maintaining such a reputable appointment has certainly played a part in Slazenger’s success. Robinsons’ 80 year affiliation is similar. The drink is synonymous with Wimbledon and Robinsons knows it, pulling the stops out every time the Championships come round.
Brands that have been associated with Wimbledon for a shorter period of time aren’t resting on their laurels either. Lanson, for instance, designed special edition Wimbledon-themed neoprene jackets that actually add value to the product. In addition to The All England Club’s logo and colours, the insulating zip-up sleeves keep (already chilled) champagne cool for up to two hours. It’s a simple but powerful on-pack addition, that’s both memorable and on-brand.
Moving forward brands are getting techier too. Stella Artois launched a virtual reality app to immerse users in a flight above Wimbledon’s courts from the perspective of Rufus the Hawk, the tournament’s official pigeon-scarer. From heritage to wildlife or even just plain style, Wimbledon has it all, the tournament itself has legendary brand influence, summed up in its recently released animated whistle-stop tour of the history of the tournament. It’s up to brands to see how they can reinterpret the tournament’s traditions to create something new and exciting. If they get it right, it’s a real win-win situation. Some of Wimbledon’s class will rub off on the brands that deserve it – while Wimbledon becomes just that little bit cooler.