Wimbledon: Premium v Value & Tradition v Innovation

Mid June typically sees a raft of official Wimbledon partners and star player sponsors roll out tactical campaigns to leverage the All England Club’s tournament and typically these revolve around the age-old themes of ‘tradition’ and ‘luxury’.


This year is no exception and sees new work from official brands such as Evian, FedEx, Lavazza and Rolex, player partnerships from adidas (Andy Murray) and Gillette (Roger Federrer), plus guerilla activity from brands such as Lidl and Nescafe


As ever with Wimbledon, 2013 sees the usual array of classic traditional print and outdoor ads from official partners based around tradition, excellence and (tired) tennis wordplay.


This year’s executions include Rolex’s full-page ‘Rolex and Wimbledon: United By The Pinnacle Of Excellence’ and Lanson’s ‘The Perfect Match’.


Official champagne partner Lanson also ran a programme of events to tie in with the tennis including a countdown initiative across its social media platforms. To celebrate 25 years as the official suppliers of Champagne to Wimbledon, Lanson also unveiled a series of Wimbledon-themed neoprene jackets to celebrate in May plus an exclusive new Lanson Fraise champagne cocktail for visitors to this year’s event. Designed to keep chilled bottles cooler for longer, the jackets will appear on Lanson Black Label in white or purple, and pink for Lanson Rosé.


In contrast to the premium brands (Like Lanson and Rolex) leveraging the elite reputation of The All England Tennis & Croquet Club’s exclusive tournament, 2013 sees discount supermarket Lidl aim to engage consumers seeking low-cost alternatives to the classic Pimm’s and Lemonade Wimbledon accompaniment. The food retailer’s execution promotes what it describes as ‘Fantastic Wimbledon Offers’ with tennis ball icons replacing the dots on the letters “i” and the “o” alongside an image picturing cucumber, mint, strawberries and a Pimm’s-eque spirit called Jeeves.


Official coffee provider Lavazza is another brand partner adopting the old-school Wimbledon ‘history and tradition’ tactic with its print and posters executions carrying the tagline ‘The New Tradition’.


This follows Lavazza’s previous Wimbledon work which included appearances by Lavazza ambassadors Pat Cash and Annabel Croft and sees the Italian coffee brand hand out free coffees to people queuing for tickets and as part of this promotion, coordinated by PR agency Lawson Dodd, people in the queue are even offered the opportunity to spend 15 minutes in the Lavazza Queue Lounge – a branded space where winners of in-queue games of racquet-cup and tennis-croquet can enjoy free coffees while their space is held by a member of the Lavazza team.


Like Lidl, Lavazza rival Nescafe has been ambushing the official partner’s activation through generic tennis language led work with print ads featuring the steam from a hot coffee pot turning into the rubber join on a tennis ball beside the tagline ‘The Perfect First Serve’.


Another 2013 brand rivalry sees Procter & Gamble sub-brand Gillette activate around its major global ambassador (and former King of Wimlbedon) Roger Federer, while arch competitor Unilever is promoting its Elmlea dairy range with classic tennis pun copy ‘Singles or doubles?’ accompanying a picture of the product range in front of a tennis net.


Moving away from the generic work, some of the more interesting 2013 activation has come from official partners FedEx and IBM.


Courier and logistics outfit FedEx for example, worked with CBS Outdoor, PHD and Aegis, again takes over Southfields Station (the nearest tube station to The All England Club) and turned its platforms into branded tennis courts with AstroTurf alongside branded billboards and posters carrying the tagline ‘Live To Deliver’.


2013 also sees IBM, the official Wimbledon supplier of information technology and consultancy, update its ‘Slam Tracker’ real-time statistics and data visualisation platform, first seen last year, with an added social sentiment analysis feature (see http://www-05.ibm.com/innovation/uk/wimbledon/index.html).



Slam Tracker provides a wealth of live scores and statistics during Wimbledon to give fans a much deeper view of the game of tennis. Using graphics to present detailed statistics in an attractive and easy to read way, SlamTracker gives fans, players and broadcasters new perspectives through which to enjoy and assess the game


The underlying message for IBM is to showcase to the  wider business community how it has the ability to take live operational data and compare it with social media sentiment can give new insights enabling better business decisions.


In previous year’s IBM adopted a tactic similar to FedEx in terms of finding interesting outdoor spaces to use and takeover for Wimbledon. For example, it partnered with Heathrow Airport for a digital outdoor initiative.


That activity, which was planned and bought by WPP agencies Mindshare and Kinetic and with creative by Ogilvy, saw IBM use JCDecaux’s digital airport panels to keep passengers informed of the latest scores and is fitting the updates to the upcoming flight schedule, by referring to players from countries relevant to travellers in the airport.


‘The digital screens provided us with a fantastic platform to connect with fans outside the tennis court, keeping passengers updated with the latest Wimbledon information, right up to the moment they board the plane,’ said IBM’s UK brand advertising manager and brand and identity manager Rosemary Brown.


Another element of that year’s IBM’s Wimbledon activation saw it utilise new outdoor media owner Executive Channel’s digital screens in offices across London to keep office workers informed of the latest news from Wimbledon.


Marc Adams, senior account manager at Mindshare, said: ‘The IBM Wimbledon activity is a great example of collaboration across Mindshare, Kinetic, Ogilvy and Grand Visual to produce a real-time, coordinated, cross-platform, digital out-of-home campaign. Using Executive Channel alongside BA Business Lounges and JCDecaux’s departure screens in Terminal Five has allowed us to increase reach of top executives in a very targeted way.’


But perhaps the most ground-breaking innovation at Wimbledon this year came from the WTA’s 58th ranked player Bethanie Mattek-Sands – who wore Google Glass at the tournament.


Ahead of the tournament Mattek-Sands wore Google Glass at the Wimbledon player party – sharing pictures from the celebrity-stacked night through the glasses.



The objective was twofold – to bring the player’s perspective and experience to the fans through this revolutionary new experimental channel and also to explore just how comfortable, secure and not distracting the Google device is.


Google says:


‘Glass’s potential in the sports realm is huge, and it can connect athletes, coaches, and fans in new ways. For Bethanie, it’s allowed her to capture her strokes from her point of view during practice and share those with her coaches. It also helps her search recipes and perfect her cooking, something that’s important to a professional athlete with dietary allergies and restrictions. Bethanie’s fans can also see the world through her eyes as she embarks upon the road to Wimbledon, where she’ll play her first match next week.”


The potential for this new channel is fascinating, but how its future will evolve at major sporting events remains to be seen.


Will it be used during live action? How will this affect broadcast rights? How can official partners and ambush brands utilise the channel? Is it inevitable that rights owners ban the device?


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