Media Analysis: Henman and co offer good returns

With Wimbledon in full swing, Dan Bloch looks at the tennis magazines that cater for the sport. With only two specialist titles, and general publications uncommitted, it helps to link brands with star players.

In response to exciting young players such as Spain's Rafael Nadal and men's Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in the game, interest in tennis is buoyant. According to Lawn Tennis Association head of comms Kris Dent, 4.6 million people are playing the game in the UK this year, compared with only 2.9 million a year ago, offering brands that associate themselves with the sport a large potential audience.

But grabbing attention for tennis outside of the Wimbledon fortnight is not easy when an increasing number of sports are vying for coverage.

Tennis is also hindered because there are only two specialist magazines - Ace Tennis and Tennis Today. 'Even at this time of year, football encroaches on sports coverage,' says Ace Tennis editor Nigel Billen. 'On the nationals, there are fewer staff tennis writers than there were five or ten years ago.'

Exposure senior account director Chris Seymour, who runs the LTA account, says: 'It's always tough to get sport into anything other than the back pages, unless you have a star player.'

Celeb support

Sponsorship via star endorsement is an important part of the strategy to link brands with tennis. For instance, Swiss watchmaker Maurice Lacroix sponsors Federer, while Britvic brand Robinsons has a deal with Tim Henman, as well as being Wimbledon's long-standing 'official soft drink'.

Brands are increasingly looking to associate with the grassroots game.

Kia Motors has put its name to the National Club League this year and is supporting a series of 'discover tennis days' next month.

American Express is hosting giant plasma screens that display the Wimbledon action in London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester. And the public can test their serves and receive training from LTA coaches. The programme was launched in London last week at a celebrity match featuring Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and Billy Jean King. 'By staging an event and adding celebrity glamour, you put the spotlight on it, which helps to gain media coverage around the country,' says Amex director of European consumer PR Douglas Smith.

Elsewhere, the Ariel roadshow has promoted tennis to seven to ten-year-olds since 2001 in an effort to give the sport a wider audience reach.

ACE TENNIS

Editor: Nigel Billen

Frequency: Monthly

Circulation: 46,140

Contact: 0207 381 7132/nigel.billen@acemag.co.uk

Outline your editorial policy?

International tennis from a British perspective. We cater for people who follow the Grand Slam, Association of Tennis Professionals and Women's Tennis Association events and the main top-100 players.

What's in the magazine?

Feature interviews with the stars, which focus on the way they play and their lifestyle. We also cater for tennis at a low level. A section called 'Great Tennis' covers coaching, fitness, clothing, kit and tennis holidays.

Readers are 50:50 male to female.

What is your relationship with PROs?

There are two groups - one we talk to all the time and with whom we have a very close year-round relationship. The second lot are either focused on the Wimbledon season (and could be seizing a one-off chance to promote something), or are involved in tennis but only have the budget or the opportunity to do something when Wimbledon is on.

What can you offer?

Sometimes we can guarantee a level of exposure that won't match what you would get in The Daily Telegraph, but will still be of benefit. Prince racquets, which sponsors Maria Sharapova, gave us an interview and we set up a photoshoot afterwards. It was easier to set up and control than some PR stunts.

TENNIS TODAY

Editor: Henry Wancke

Frequency: Bi-monthly

Circulation: 3,295

Contact: 01491 612042/henry@tennistodayltd.co.uk

Who reads Tennis Today?

It goes to all the LTA-affiliated and non-affiliated club secretaries in the country. Its objective is to talk to the people who run the sport at the grass roots. It is not a fan magazine.

Any key areas of interest?

The under-18 juniors game and running and maintaining tennis clubs - and we try to show players how to do things such as buy racquets and assess their own standard. We are also the only magazine that questions the policy of the LTA - how it spends money and runs the game. And we've recently covered the Licensing Act, because a lot of small clubs understand how to run a bar, but not the implications of it. Some of them stay afloat on bar takings alone and will go to the wall.

What products or services would get in the mag?

We keep an open mind - it depends on the time of year. We have a reader offer for an energy bar at the moment, and we often do competitions or tie-ins with ball or racquet makers. If anyone has a good idea, we'll look at it - even videos.

What's your advice to PROs?

We are always open to ideas for stories. But I will only consider those that are clear in black and white from the beginning.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in