Campaign: Federer's racquet gets pitched to amateurs - Consumer PR

Campaign: Federer's nCode racquet

Client: Wilson

PR team: Sports Impact

Timescale: June-December 2004

Budget: £12,000

Amer Sports, Wilson's parent company, is second only to adidas-Salomon in terms of global sports equipment sales. However, in recent years, Wilson had lost market share. Tennis world number one Roger Federer switched to Wilson's latest model of tennis racquet to defend his Wimbledon title in 2004. The racquet, the Wilson nCode Six-One Tour, costs upwards of £150 and was the first to incorporate nano-technology.

Objectives

To drive sales of Wilson and establish it as the number one brand for tennis equipment. To maximise awareness that the world's best player had opted to defend his Wimbledon title with a racquet he had tested for only two months. To communicate the advantages of the new technology and make club players aware of the racquet's availability.

Strategy and Plan

Given Federer's high profile, there would be no shortage of images of him on the sports pages using the distinctive red and white racquet. The challenge was to let club players know they could buy the same racquet.

Sports Impact targeted editorial in sport and business sections prior to Wimbledon, broadcast coverage during the tournament, and trade, specialist and consumer media throughout the rest of the year.

A press release also concentrated on how Federer had been involved in the racquet's design. It highlighted the effect of the nano-technology. An original DVD provided different poses and action shots.

The team also made sure that any commentator who might talk about Federer had received a racquet. It played on the fact that most were former professional tennis players, appealing to their expert sense of judgement and whether there might be a link between performance and racquet.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign generated TV interviews on ITV, ITN, the BBC and Sky Sports, as well as Radio Wimbledon.

Features appeared in The Times, the Financial Times and The Sunday Telegraph, along with five other national titles and 15 regional newspapers, two sports industry journals and several men's lifestyle titles, including GQ.

Results

Wilson sold 3,000 racquets in six weeks from mid-June, and had to restock its retailers more rapidly than it had anticipated. Market share increased from 34 per cent to 36 per cent and Wilson now sells more tennis racquets than any other brand.

'Presenting a clear link between the world's best player and the nano-technology helped us to tell the story about the Wilson racquet,' says The Times sports correspondent Ashling O'Connor.

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