CAMPAIGNS: Ericsson retools, sponsors tennis

Client: Ericsson (Miami)

Client: Ericsson (Miami)

Client: Ericsson (Miami)

PR Team: In-house, with assistance from Edelman (New York)

Campaign: Launch of tennis tournament sponsorship

Time Frame: March 1999 to March 2000

Budget: About dollars 250,000


Clumsy tea drinkers and tennis buffs alike know that tea can leave

behind stubborn stains.

Lipton, the food company best known for its tea, has ingrained itself

into the tennis consciousness by sponsoring for the past 15 years the

fifth-largest professional tournament, the Lipton Championships - known

simply as The Lipton. After the tea company opted not to back the

Miami-based contest again, Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson - a

presenting sponsor for five years - gladly assumed the title


All Ericsson had to do was erase the 15-year-old Lipton stain and

rebrand the tournament as the Ericsson Open.


According to Rosemary Ravinal, Ericsson’s director of PR for the mobile

phone division in the Americas, the PR campaign had three goals: to

aggressively promote the Ericsson Open name change, to establish

Ericsson as a credible player in pro tennis and to preserve the history,

tradition and prestige of the Lipton.


Although the campaign began with a press conference at the end of the

1999 tournament to announce Ericsson’s new title sponsorship, the main

campaign kicked off in early 2000 with the theme ’New Name. Same Game.’

The slogan was used in pre-tournament promotions, including ads for

ticket sales, direct mailings to season-ticket holders and eight

broadcast campaigns.

But it was during this year’s 11-day tournament, which began in late

March, that Ericsson unleashed the full extent of the rebranding


Ericsson mobile phones were given gratis to 300 tennis pros. Daily

trivia contests were held for journalists; those who won received mobile

phones as prizes. Ericsson also offered a free interactive service for

fans called Air2Web, which showed real-time game updates and scores on

mobile phones.

Four spectators were also awarded free phones in an on-court


And the company unveiled the Ericsson Expo, highlights of which included

the Ericsson Open Hall of Fame, an exhibit of tennis legends and


The expo also boasted a live TV studio with tennis pros like Luke and

Murphy Jensen.


A variety of media outlets covered Ericsson’s rebranding efforts,

including the AP, USA Today, Sports Business Journal, Tennis Week, The

Miami Herald and Miami’s ABC and NBC affiliates.

Ravinal admits that mobile phone sales did not appreciably increase

after the tournament. ’This first event was not designed specifically

for sales, but to position the brand in the context of the tournament,’

she says.

The company, which has two five-year sponsorship contracts, will start

to measure the tournament’s impact on sales in the second or third


The company did measure participation in the Ericsson Expo. BellSouth

Mobility reported 140 new mobile phone activations, 914 Air2Web

subscribers, 18,000 minutes of calls, 500 phones given away and a 75%

attendance rate at the expo.


The PR strategy for the 2001 Ericsson Open will focus more on the

company’s products than on the name change. In the meantime, media

relations efforts will continue at the four Grand Slam tournaments.

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