Campaigns: Sport - Players' artwork scores ace for ATP

Campaign: The Art of Tennis
Client: ATP World Tour
PR team: Threepipe Sport
Timescale: August-November 2010
Budget: £75,000

Threepipe Sport undertook a campaign for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, starring the world's best tennis players.

Objectives

- To promote the ATP World Tour finals at the O2 in the build-up to the event

- To drive traffic to the ATP website

- To drive sales of tickets for the event

- To generate interest and coverage internationally.

Strategy and plan

The greatest lure for the campaign was the players themselves, with global stars such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray qualifying for the tournament. However, access to the players was limited so the team had to think of a strategy that would not use up too much of their time.

The PR team came up with 'The Art of Tennis' where each qualifying player was challenged to create a self-portrait using just a racquet, tennis balls and a pot of paint. The process took 20 minutes per player and resulted in artwork from the world's top eight players.

As each player qualified for the finals, media interviews were set up for UK and international media. This helped drive interest in the build-up to the event. Images of the portraits were provided to selected media on an exclusive basis, and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were all used to distribute campaign content. Bloggers were also given access to the content and players themselves were encouraged to tweet to their followers. Content was also put on the ATP website, including behind-the-scenes videos of the artwork being created.

A week before the tournament the portraits were displayed in a London gallery, giving fans a chance to view them up close. As the event began at the O2, the portraits were put on display at the venue and fans were encouraged to have a go at making their own versions.

During the build-up and the tournament, each player's artwork was auctioned online for charity. This provided more news hooks for media coverage.

Measurement and evaluation

The story generated 92 pieces of coverage in the UK media and was covered internationally, including in France, Germany, Spain, India, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.

Highlights included pieces in The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, the London Evening Standard, the Daily Mail, Metro, Sport magazine and on Sky Sports and the BBC website.

Results

In total more than 250,000 people attended the ATP World Tour Finals, and the BBC live audience peaked at 2.9 million people tuning in to watch Nadal vs Murray. There were 115,548 unique visitors to the Art of Tennis website during the campaign period and more than 56,000 views of the Art of Tennis video on YouTube. There were more than 2,700 'likes' for the Art of Tennis content on Facebook and more than 20,600 plays of the video content on the ATP website. The charity auction of the art raised $127,755 in total.

Second Opinion

Amy Finlayson, Account director, Inside Media

My first thoughts on this campaign? Threepipe delivered an 'ace'. The challenge with this is creating something worthwhile that doesn't look like a dog's dinner and that people would actually be interested in looking at and even purchasing. All of this while having incredibly limited access to the players, who are known for their tennis prowess, not their artistic talent. The simple but effective pictures created were spot on; easy for the players to create yet visually interesting.

It demonstrates the power of a picture story. With the international appeal of the players and the striking images, the story went worldwide. This is also where social media come into their own, making the campaign accessible to an international audience. The YouTube and Twitter activity is impressive, showing that the online engagement was very effective.

The campaign idea also offered several layers of activity, with the players doing the portraits, followed by them being displayed in an art gallery and finally the online auction.

I admire the way they linked sport and art and I think we're going to be seeing more of this in the build-up to London 2012.

I would be interested to know which charity benefited from the sales on eBay. Perhaps it would have been beneficial to tie in with a particular charity and use that in the publicity, maybe with case studies of those who will benefit from the money raised.

To sum it up; 'back of the net!' Or is that the wrong sport? ...

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