Monday, June 30, 2014

Sport For Thought: Wimbledon, The World's Most Recognizable Brand

With all of the sporting events that occur throughout the world, is any brand more recognizable than Wimbledon? When flipping through the channels, you may see football, baseball, basketball, soccer, golf or any other sport being played. But can a viewer know exactly what the event is just from watching what is being televised? How is a World Series or Super Bowl game more recognizable to the television viewer then just any regular season game? The answer is, their is no difference! But when one turns on the television to view a tennis match, what is more recognizable then the perfectly landscaped grass courts, all white, and the properness that is Wimbledon?

Having had the opportunity to travel to London in March and tour the grounds of Wimbledon, I quickly realized how successful the event has been in building the world's most recognizable brand, whether people realize it or not. Wimbledon began as a croquet club in 1877, allowing only gentlemen the ability to compete.

Today, Wimbledon is a representation of a typical English stereotype. Complete with scones and strawberry jam, all-white uniforms, and properness. An instant identification is created like no other sporting event. The purpose for the all-white uniforms was for the British gentlemen to hide their sweat when the croquet club first began, and the tradition continues to this day.

Most sporting events generate the greatest revenue through the sale of sponsorships and advertisements throughout the venue. But sticking with tradition,  their is no signage located either on or around the courts. Instead, the championship makes its money through television rights worth an undisclosed amount,  £30 million in ticket sales, as well as merchandising and concessions. However, none of these are the reason that Wimbledon is able to deny the money that court side sponsorships generate.

Instead, the greatest revenue generator for the historic event is produced through debentures, which requires owners to pay £25,000 pounds, generating about £60 million a year. The money then gives a percentage equivalent to a £2,500 loan to Wimbledon, as well as rights to one ticket at center court for five years. The reason this appeals to buyers is because debenture owners are the only ticket holders allowed to sell their tickets on the white market for a drastic increase in ticket price. This rise in ticket price pays off the £25,000 purchase as well as earning the owner extra money.

In order to compensate for a lack of sponsors, Wimbledon turns to suppliers which are still quite different and do not generate a significant amount of money. Slazenger, the official Wimbledon tennis ball provider since 1969, donates about 35,000 tennis balls to be used during the event with the Wimbledon logo pictured on it. Other suppliers include Rolex, IBM, Evian, and Ralph Lauren. Being a supplier benefits companies because it helps market their brand while not spending nearly as much money as a sponsor usually would for such a major sporting event.

Wimbledon has most definitely displayed some of tennis' greatest talents in both Williams sisters, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, John McEnroe,  Andre Agassi, and Billie Jean King. But as a viewer, when the athletes are changing, the one thing that stays consistent is the brand that is Wimbledon. When these players step onto the courts, they suddenly change and have to live up to the greatness and tradition that was before them. Even Serena Williams, who is known for her controversial tennis attire acknowledges the all-white required at Wimbledon. Considered one of the world's most global sporting events, attracting 195 countries throughout the world, with over 1.8 billion viewers, Wimbledon does not try to compete against other sports. The only goal is to remain the #1 tennis event in the world. 


Alexa Fontanella is a freshman Sport Management Major at Drexel University, from Totowa, NJ. This winter she will be working with Drexel Athletics on marketing strategies and game day operations for the Drexel Dragons basketball team. Alexa is looking forward to participating in her first co-op next fall and is excited for such an amazing opportunity. She is a huge New York Sports fan, specifically the Yankees and the Nets. 

Follow Alexa on Twitter @Lexa_Font4 and connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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