Causing a Racket: The Top 5 Most Innovative Wimbledon Sponsorship Campaigns Revealed

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With Wimbledon 2022 right around the corner, physical branding experts Solopress have analysed 5 of the tournament’s most exciting and innovative sponsorship campaigns and the marketing expertise behind them.

Key Findings:

  • Google Trends has seen a 250% increase in searches for “Wimbledon 2022 Championships” in the last 30 days alone.
  • The renowned sporting event generates an estimated £45 million just from sponsorship.
  • The venue’s grounds hold 42,000 fans and the level of Wimbledon’s TV viewers is on the rise, with the 2021 tournament attracting an average audience of 15.5 million across 43.5 hours of BBC coverage.
  • Long-standing partners of Wimbledon, Robinson’s have been working for the event since 1934 whilst Slazenger and Wimbledon hold the title for longest partnership in sporting goods history, with Slazenger being the tournament’s official ball supplier since 1902.
  • The 2016 “Lose Yourself” Wimbledon campaign delivered by Haagen Dazs received 28,000 engagements, attracted 15,000 photobooth participants and garnered 2000 sales.
  • Robinson’s 2014 #PlayThirsty campaign celebrated the brand’s 80-year partnership with Wimbledon and included video tutorials which shared key tennis tips to urge viewers to stay active during the summer.
  • Evian’s unique outdoor “Ball Hunt” campaign attracted over 2,000 new followers and 365 mentions on Twitter.

With the excitement of Wimbledon 2022 rapidly ramping up, searches for “Wimbledon 2022 Championships” have increased by 250% in the last 30 days alone according to Google Trends. Considered the world’s most highly-regarded tennis event, Wimbledon offers the ultimate venue for brands to target ABC1 audiences with their unique marketing campaigns.

If recent years have been anything to go off, it looks like there’ll be no shortage of viewers tuning into the prestigious event in 2022, with the BBC broadcasted tournament in 2021 gaining a cumulative average viewership of 15.5 million across 43.5 hours of coverage. With a viewership of this level, it’s no surprise that brands are excited to capitalise on the marketing opportunities offered by Wimbledon. As each year passes, instantly recognisable brands from Haagen Dazs to HSBC deliver new and original advertising campaigns that stop fans dead in their tracks.

Now synonymous with the British summertime, Wimbledon has a rich heritage and is home to a host of premium brands that hold long-term partnerships with the sporting event. These iconic brands range from Slazenger, who have been the official ball supplier of Wimbledon since 1902, to Pimms and Lanson who take care of courtside tipples. The event earns approximately £45 million in terms of sponsorships alone, indicating the lucrative nature of these partnerships, but just which brands take the lead in terms of creative marketing and what can we learn from them?

Wimbledon’s Most Stand-Out Sponsorship Campaigns

  • Haagen Dazs – Lose Yourself 2016

Luxury ice cream brand Haagen Dazs celebrated its 5-year relationship with Wimbledon with their 2016 “Lose Yourself” campaign. This innovative concept involved the release of a strawberries and cream stick bar to nod to the event’s most beloved pairing and a unique multi-channel advertising campaign. Leveraging the artful work of street photographer Adam Katz, the adverts shifted focus from tennis giants Murray and Federer and instead gave the SW19 crowd centre-stage, which led to captivating real-time portraits capturing the most powerful moments of the matches in an authentic way.

Utilising the hashtag #LoseYourself alongside PR and Out of Home assets to encourage viewers to share their images, this exciting strategy gave fans the spotlight for a change, amplifying the intensity of Haagen Dazs’ delicious flavours and the compelling nature of the tournament.

Using an interactive, authentic approach, the concept highlighted the audience’s genuine love for the sport, allowing them to become part of the narrative. Receiving 28,000 customer engagements, 15,000 photobooth participants and 2,000 sales, Lose Yourself demonstrates the influence that outside-the-box user-generated content campaigns can have.

  • Robinson’s – Play Thirsty 2014

Holding the title of Official Soft Drink Supplier of Wimbledon since 1935, Robinson’s certainly made a splash with their 2014 Play Thirsty campaign. The brand has delivered countless memorable campaigns over the year and has more than proven its multi-channel marketing expertise through a range of mediums, from thermo-reactive posters to 3D billboards at Waterloo Station and virtual reality, placing fans in Centre Court with a matchless 360 view from the Umpire’s Chair via their own virtual headset.

Robinson’s #PlayThirsty marked 80 years at Wimbledon and aimed to encourage families to stay active by offering fun, cost-free ways to play tennis. The brand harnessed the power of social media, video advertising and video tutorials, offering families the chance to win a VIP package to attend Wimbledon via a product promotion. Six Play Thirsty YouTube tutorials featuring ambassador Judy Murray were released to advance the tennis abilities of both adults and children through interactive games which covered static and dynamic balance and more. Not only did this inventive campaign utilise interactivity and a prize incentive, but it also tapped into the rich heritage behind the Robinson’s and Wimbledon partnership with the tagline “quenching the thirst of Wimbledon since 1935” when it was first released as a national press campaign. Play Thirsty is a prime example of how to successfully leverage heritage and nostalgia as a brand whilst appealing to the target audience in unexpected ways and offering value above and beyond the product itself.

  • Evian – Ball Hunt 2012

Official water sponsors of Wimbledon, Evian used social media, gamification and giveaways to deliver an entirely unique experience for Wimbledon fans in their 2012 campaign. Fans were asked to embark on an interactive “ball hunt” to be in with the chance of winning tickets to Wimbledon 2012. Via the brand’s official Facebook and Twitter pages, fans were urged to gather clues and look out for the “Evian ball boy” who would guide them to check-in at the required location in London.

Ball Hunt exemplified how brands can use gamification to their advantage and create a high level of traction about both their brand and the event they are sponsoring with interactive, outdoor concepts. The campaign attracted over 2,000 new followers on Twitter with over 250 using the hashtag #EvianBallHunt and 365 mentioning the brand in posts. As well as receiving a high level of social media engagement, Ball Hunt also revealed the personality and fun behind the Evian brand, helping to enhance their brand equity. The campaign also incorporated a further competitive edge by offering access to their exclusive “Live Young” VIP suite to the fan with the best “live young” attitude in their picture to encourage wider user engagement.

  • Lavazza –The Queue 2016

Serving freshly brewed coffee to fans since 2011 as the official coffee of Wimbledon, Lavazza broke the mould with their incredible #TheQueue campaign. Although the queues of Wimbledon are often adrenaline-fuelled as audiences wait eagerly to begin their Wimbledon experience, naturally, they are also known for taking up a lot of time. Lavazza’s 2016 physical branding and social media marketing concept capitalised on the opportunity to reduce the tedium of long wait times and educate fans about their brand history.

Using an on-site coffee printing machine, fan selfies were printed on cups of coffee, allowing a new level of personalisation and engagement with Lavazza products. With their innovative campaign, the brand was able to address a significant pain point, allowing customers to refuel and learn more about the Lavazza story. Unsurprisingly “The Queue” took off on social media, reaching over 1.75 million people and accumulating 1,131 brand mentions across all social platforms over the 2-week period. 

  • HSBC – HSBC Presents Wimbledon at Rockefeller Centre 2010

For the past 10 years, HSBC have been the official banking partner of Wimbledon, with their branding seen each year adorning the venue, making them one of the most visible sponsors. HSBC are masters at physical branding, having previously provided an on-site bank facility which granted HSBC cardholders access to free strawberries and cream and introducing “Court 20” which gave fans the opportunity to hone their tennis ability and get a meet and greet with A-list brand ambassadors including Tim Henman.

The brand’s 2010 campaign took advantage of print and digital marketing tools to maximise reach and impact. “HSBC presents Wimbledon 2010 at Rockefeller Center” print-based ads were placed in prominent publications including the New York Observer and The New Yorker including a QR code which enabled readers to experience a world of exclusive Wimbledon-related content. From live screenings at the HSBC outdoor viewing area to chances to play tennis on Manhattan’s only court, the QR code linkage encouraged fans to download the HSBC app and access the programme of exclusive events and strengthen their ties to the HSBC brand.

Wimbledon undoubtedly offers the perfect platform for brands to leverage their marketing expertise, get noticed and build relationships with the tournament’s fanbase. From interactive outdoor competitions to user-generated content campaigns that put fans front and centre, there are countless ways to capture the attention of the crowds and achieve mass engagement. If previous Wimbledon campaigns are anything to go off, it’s safe to say that the 2022 tournament will deliver some gripping branded campaigns that will go down in marketing history.

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