Slazenger Wimbledon Ads Built On 112-Year Tie-Up

290 million Slazenger balls could fit into centre Court with the roof closed and 54,250 will be sued during this year’s Championships, but the key number in the tennis brand’s current Wimbledon activation is 112.


The official ball partner, all Wimbledon sponsors are referred to as ‘partners’, and Sports Direct (the two brands are part off the same parent company) have launched a campaign celebrates the sports equipment brand’s 112-year partnership.


Which the company claims to be the longest commercial partnership in sports history.


Today’s Slazenger balls, which are made from raw materials gathered from 11 countries and are manufactured in The Philippines, are slammed down at more than 100 miles an hour during the tournament and need to be changed after the first seven and then every nine games during each match.


Agency Antidote rolled out the new campaign to coincide with Wimbledon fortnight with a message built around the fact that Slazenger has been the official ball supplier since 1902.


Led by a simple ad execution featuring a Slazenger tennis ball in motion (on course for a lawn court baseline) beside copy reading ‘The focus of every point since 1902’.


The agency team was led by creative director Tim Ashton, in partnership with planner Paul Shearman and producer Stephen Yeates.


Retailer Sports Direct bought the media directly and the ads will span London area billboards, other outdoor sites, in-store at Sports Direct, plus digital banners and press ads (including space in the Wimbledon programme itself)


The push will run through the two-week long tournament.


‘Occasionally, an agency’s role is simply to shine a light on a story that hasn’t been told. Slazenger’s partnership with Wimbledon means that for 112 dramatic years, the eyes of the world have been focused on one ball,’ explained Antidote managing director Henry Chilcott.


Vincent Smith, the associate director of Sports Direct and Slazenger, said: ‘We’re very proud of our relationship with Wimbledon – at 112 years, we’re the longest partnership in sporting history – so we wanted to celebrate this in a simple and confident way.’


As with all Wimbledon partners, Slazenger has no on-site advertising signage other than the logo on the balls themselves.


While it does have a minor presence on the Wimbledon website where the balls can be bought through the official shop, it doesn’t have the online logo presence of fellow partners IBM or Rolex on the official website.


However, Slazenger’s own site features Wimbledon heavily in image and copy and content, alongside content relating to the brand’s Wimbledon relationship heritage and input from its ‘Tennis Team’ player endorsers Jamie Murray and Ross Hutchins.




Sports Direct acquired Dunlop Slazenger Carlton in 2004 for around £40m (the retailer also owns the Karrimor and Kangol brands too).


The Slazenger/Sports Direct relationship might initial make this campaign stand out, but beneath the ownership structure this is little more than an old school, classic advertising campaign.


Some may argue that tradition and Wimbledon go hand in hand and the property is perfect for old school advertising strategies.


After all, isn’t Wimbledon the oldest organised tennis tournament in the world with time honoured dress codes and staunch traditions?


However, close watchers of Wimbledon partnership activation in recent years – from IBM to Evian – will be more than aware that the property has built up a reputation for innovation, original thinking and future facing technologies.


This innovation is partly driven specifically by The All England Club’s tough on-site activation rules which largely forbid advertising signage across the 14 acre site other than brand names on utilities which contribute to the actual game: such as Rolex on its clocks and Slazenger on its balls.


In this era of digital pitch-side billboards, on field logos, sponsored shirts and TV advertising, Wimbledon has clean courts, no signage, no corporate boxes, no changeover music, all white kit rules, no in-stadium giant screen replays and is broadcast by free to air and ad-free BBC.


‘We run a tennis tournament, not an event,’ says club chairman Philip Brook. ‘And we are successful precisely because we don’t have signage on the Centre Court. It enhances the uniqueness of the tournament and attracts the kind of partners like Rolex who share our vision and are content to have just one small sign on their Centre Court clock. Slazenger have been with us since 1902, [it is] the longest sponsorship partnership in sport. We promote and protect the Wimbledon brand, and our logo is the only thing we want people to see.’


Brook certainly has a point.


After all, The Championships remain the sport’s undisputed pinnacle and in just a two-week period each year this 500 member club’s annual tournament generates more than $60m.




Slazenger Tennis Balls Website



Slazenger Tennis Website



Wimbledon Website





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