In late 2016, legends of the game, including Björn Borg, Roger Federer and John McEnroe, unveiled one of the most innovative concepts in tennis’s modern age, the Laver Cup. Created by 20-time Grand Slam® champion, Federer, the tournament pits Europe’s top six male tennis players against their rest of the world counterparts over three days of scintillating tennis at a new host city every September.
In May 2019 the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) announced that the Laver Cup will be an officially sanctioned ATP Tour event. In light of this decision and, as The Championships, Wimbledon draw to an end, the Laver Cup’s unique benefits, when compared to Grand Slam events, comes into sharp focus and warrants closer inspection.
Every sporting partnership’s aim is to engage with fans in an emotionally charged environment, becoming an integral part of their experience. For a partnership to succeed it must be genuinely be anchored to an event that fans want to attend. For fledgling events, such as the Laver Cup, this can be a stumbling block, as these tournaments simply don’t have the necessary fan engagement and spectator numbers to entice corporate partners. The format of the Laver Cup offers one of the most effective avenues to engage with potential customers, helping to ensure high fan attendance. The fact that the top six players on the Tour (plus three captain’s picks per team) play every year ensures high demand for tickets, which was ultimately responsible for the event’s first two editions selling out – Prague’s O2 Arena in 2017 and Chicago’s United Centre in 2018.
The ATP is enjoying record attendances at Tour events, reaching 4.5 million in 2017. Much like The Ryder Cup, which an American or European city hosts every two years, the Laver Cup provides an exceptional opportunity for brands to speak to fans on a global scale, which wouldn’t be possible if partnering with a geographically static tournament. Fans have embraced the new concept, which has become increasingly popular year on year, highlighting its viability to brands who understand that their target market sits within a tennis-focused arena.
While the tournament offers partners a bespoke opportunity to engage within tennis, the details of the agreement showcase the audience size that they can reach. Sponsors will have immediate access to marketing platforms, including the six million followers across the ATP’s social channels (an instant upgrade from its current 328k fans across its own three platforms). Additionally, the Laver Cup forged a partnership with Amazon Prime Video ahead of the 2018 tournament, streaming all matches live and on-demand to over 200 territories, including a mini-series around the tournament. Combined with access to the Laver Cup’s digital channels, the event offers brands fan engagement on a scale usually only seen by Grand Slam tournament partners.
The fact that the tournament remains in its infancy substantially improves its partnership potential. In several cases the sport has provided benefits to partners supporting players, tournaments and initiatives from the very outset. From apparel manufacturer, Wilson, which has supplied tennis racquets to Roger Federer for the entirety of his career, to Rolex’s enduring 40-year relationship, as Official Timekeeper of The Championships, Wimbledon, brands can expect surprising loyalty from tennis, and the Laver Cup is no exception.
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