USTA's New Ad Campaign

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by Phil, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

    Feb 11, 2004
    In a tent, along the Silk Road
    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.
  2. Cypo

    Cypo Rookie

    Feb 11, 2004
    "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

    I love this - Blake is moving the needle away from elitist, country clubs ????? Blake has about as much in common with Venus and Serena as I do (he has a slight advantage on skin and hair, but I've got him beat on gender) (tennis skills aside of course).

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