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Old 04-19-2004, 10:25 PM   #1
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Default USTA's New Ad Campaign

For your reading pleasure, from the NY Times:

1. Campaign Spotlight: Tennis Bids for a Diverse Future ================================================== =====

Those with long memories may recall characters in plays who
bounded on stage in white flannels and asked brightly,
"Tennis, anyone?" Now, the United States Tennis Association
has embarked on an ambitious campaign to encourage a lot more
anyones, particularly from more diverse backgrounds, to play.

The campaign, with a budget estimated at $3 million, seeks to
dispel belief that tennis is a sport with a limited appeal --
primarily to white, higher-income players -- by reaching out
to demographic categories like African-Americans, Hispanics,
blue-collar workers, fitness buffs and older Americans. The
campaign, now under way, is created by Vigilante, a New York
agency that specializes in urban-oriented advertising, along
with an internal team at the tennis association.

The new, more inclusive approach taken by the campaign, with
television, print, online and promotional elements, is
evident in the theme it introduces: "Tennis. Come out
swinging," as well as in the rainbow coalition of celebrities
-- none of them professional tennis players -- appearing in
the initial batch of ads. They are the boxer Roy Jones Jr.;
Daisy Fuentes, the model, actress and promoter of the Winsor
Pilates fitness program; the Nascar driver Jeff Gordon; and
Mike Wallace, the longtime CBS journalist. Some of the ads
are in Spanish as well as English.

The campaign echoes efforts by marketers of consumer products
to broaden their customer bases by appealing to different
types of shoppers. The tricky task is of course to find an
effective way to appeal to new people without putting off
those already buyers (or in this instance, players).

"We're speaking to perceptions our sport is still an elitist,
country-club sport," says Michelle Difilippantonio, senior
director for marketing at the tennis association in White
Plains. "Players like James Blake and Venus and Serena
Williams have moved the needle, but not enough, in our

So the campaign seeks to deliver "a more relevant message to
a multicultural audience," she adds, as well as "put tennis
back into the pop culture, like in the heyday of the 70's"
when brash players including John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors
took some of the prim-and-proper starch out of the image of

The "Come out swinging" theme created by Vigilante is
intended as "a call to action," Ms. Difilippantonio says, to
direct would-be players to a network of more than 3,400
Tennis Welcome Centers across the country, in parks, tennis
clubs, resorts, health clubs and campuses, where they can get
introduced to the game. (Information about the centers is
available online at

"Research showed us that people who wanted to get involved in
the sport didn't know where to go to get in the game," she
adds. "So participation is the focus."

For instance, the ad featuring Mr. Jones declares that "like
boxing, a round of tennis burns calories, increases agility
and improves foot speed. All with fewer shots to the head."
The ad with Mr. Wallace carries the headline "As hard hitting
as ever" and promises that when it comes to playing tennis,
"60 minutes and you're hooked."

The ad featuring Ms. Fuentes asserts that an hour of tennis
can burn more calories than "hiking, riding a stationary
bike, doing low-impact aerobics or running to meetings." And
the ad with Mr. Gordon, carrying the headline "Always hits
top speed," calls tennis "a great way to get on track to a
better body" that can "get your heart really racing."

"To capture these audiences, you need to speak to them
differently from the way tennis talks to its core audience,"
says Danny Robinson, chief creative officer at Vigilante,
part of the Publicis Groupe, which has also created campaigns
for General Motors and Major League Baseball intended to
attract consumers from more varied backgrounds.

"Here, the idea was how can we take a more aggressive stance
to people who didn't perceive tennis as cool," he says, "who
think it's an easy sport to play that doesn't require the
athleticism of football or basketball."

"But it's a tough sport that requires stamina and is a great
way to get fit, not a walk-in-the-park kind of sport," Mr.
Robinson, himself a tennis player, adds. "Come out swinging'
is a simple statement that explains what we want the
perception of tennis to be."

To appeal to new types of players, Mr. Robinson says, the
campaign was produced to look unlike other tennis ads, with
"aggressive photography" of the celebrities, "bright, bold
colors" and no one dressed in tennis whites.

In fact, Mr. Jones has no shirt on at all, only his boxing

"That would never happen at Wimbledon," Mr. Robinson says,
laughing, "but when you're playing tennis in the city, you
take off your shirt."

Similarly, Mr. Gordon is dressed as he would be for a Nascar
race; Mr. Wallace is wearing newsroom garb, a shirt with
rolled-up sleeves, dress slacks and a tie; and Ms. Fuentes is
sporting an embroidered top with a tennis-racquet design at
the center with mesh where the racquet strings would be,
exposing some cleavage.

"The only two cues to typical tennis" in each ad, Mr.
Robinson says with a chuckle, are the inclusion of a tennis
ball and a racquet.

The tennis association enlisted for the campaign the Tennis
Industry Association and other organizations, so the "Come
out swinging" message will be broadened beyond advertising to
include unusual promotions. They will appear on the labels of
25 million cans of tennis balls bearing brands like Dunlop,
Penn and Wilson; on the hang tags of 2.5 million tennis
racquets made by companies like Head, Prince and Wilson; on
inserts stuffed into boxes of tennis shoes sold by companies
like Adidas and Nike; and on banners in 1,000 sporting-goods
stores as well as the Tennis Welcome Centers.

The print ads will appear as eight-page inserts in the April
and May issues of magazines including ESPN Magazine, Fitness,
Men's Fitness, Men's Health, Runner's World, Shape, Tennis
Magazine, Travel and Leisure and Vibe. Inserts will also
appear in USA Today and 50 local newspapers across the
country. And a commercial promoting the Tennis Welcome
Centers will appear during coverage of tennis tournaments on
networks like ESPN, ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel.
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