New Balance 2015 collection

On Thursday October 23rd I represented Tennis-Buzz at a press day hosted at the Hoxton Arches, London, where New Balance showcased its SS15 collections.
With soon-to-be-released sports performance and lifestyle clothing products on show, together with an extensive new footwear collection, I was of course particularly keen to get a sneak peek of the latest tennis gear to be worn by Milos Raonic and Nicole Gibbs (amongst others) for the 2015 season.

Stealing the show was the MC (men’s collection) and WC (women’s collection) 996v2 footwear; The shoes were equipped with PROBANK, NDURE and REVLOTE technologies to enable athletes to remain light on their feet without sacrificing durability or support for grueling matches. This easy-on-the-eye product was my favourite item in the new collection.

New Balance 2015 collection

Other stand-out, and more traditional looking footwear included the MC896v1 and MC696v2.

Nicole Gibbs New Balance Australian Open outfit

I was also able to take a look at the New Balance kit to be worn by Nicole Gibbs at the smart 2015 Australian and French Open’s (no word on what Milos will be wearing as yet).

Nicole Gibbs New Balance French Open outfit

All in all it was a fun event, with plenty of new products across New Balance’s range of categories such as cricket, running and of course tennis. And one thing is for sure, regardless of how New Balance tennis athletes perform next year, they’ll certainly look the part.

By Andreas Plastiras

Thanks to Gung Ho and New Balance for the invite!

Mats Wilander

Enjoy the second edition of Break Point, our monthly roundup of the best tennis-related articles on the web:

– 7-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander turned 50 on August 22nd, learn more about his life as a tennis vagabond in this Men’s journal article.

– another veteran player, Pat Cash talks about life on the Seniors tour: A Week With Tennis Champions: Private Planes, Celebrities and Locker Room Gossip

– ever wondered what it’s like to be a ballboy at the US Open? Enjoy this Grantland post: I Tried Out to Be a US Open Ball Boy and Saw Dave Chappelle, and All I Got Were These Two Lousy T-Shirts.

– in May 1984, six of the world’s Top 10 were American, as were 24 of the Top 50. 30 years later, there are only 3 Americans in the top 50, with a chance at winning a Slam really close to 0. Can US Men’s Tennis Rise Again?

– the story of Irish player James McGee, who qualified for the main draw of the US Open for the first time of his career: James McGee rekindles fond memories of grinding out wins in Gabon as he aims for the bright lights. Also James great blog post on financing the tour.

why Wimbledon defeats the #USOpen game, set and match in the social media arena, by Tennis Buzz contributor Andreas Plastiras.

– and finally, Mauro’s article on how Stefan is transforming Federer into an “Edberg 2.0”

Photo credit: Margaret

Wimbledon 2014 has certainly seen the event live up to its billing as the ‘most social Wimbledon ever’, with the event organisers bringing people closer to the action with a string of cutting edge activations promoted via the @Wimbledon Twitter profile. Adding to this is the fact that 85% of the competing seeded players now have a presence on Twitter, and with this in mind I wanted to have a look at some of the themes emerging from the outbound activity published to Twitter by those competing in week one at this years event.

Celebrity Spotting

If you have an interest in our great sport then Wimbledon is the place to be, and that is consistently the case for a series of superstar actors, musicians and sports people who turn out annually to watch the action live, to the delight of the players

There happens to be World Cup Taking Place

Novak Djokovic has shown support for the countries neighboring his native Serbia, and appears to have taken a particular liking to Greece

As has Nick Kyrgios, who despite representing Australia has family roots in Greece

Given Spain’s early exit, Rafa Nadal has refrained from tweeting about the tournament, which is in contrast to Roger Federer, who has been ever so insightful in his live tweets during Switzerland’s matches

Maria Sharapova has been following Russia’s progress – luckily for Maria, should things not fair so well with Grigor, she will have no problems finding a new partner in her native homeland

Whilst Tomas Berdych weighed in on the discussion around the Luis Suarez ‘bite’ – Tomas, are you implying that Suarez is a vampire?

Players interacting with one another

Andrea Petkovic is always good value on Twitter and after the BBC referred to her as “an up and coming 20 year old rising star”, she took to the micro blog to highlight her secret to sustaining her youthful complexion, prompting replies from fellow players Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber

The Sky

Tomas Berdych lost out to Marin Cilic in a match that ended at 21:38 in almost total darkness – the latest end time for an outdoor match in Wimbledon’s history. Despite the ‘Bird man’s’ protests to the umpire to suspend the match at the latter end of the third set and with Hawk Eye failing to operate given the lack of light, Berdych took to Twitter to congratulate Cilic on his victory

His tweet prompted humorous response from the @PseudoFed profile (in my opinion at least) one of the best parody accounts on Twitter

On the subject of Mr Federer, the Swiss maestro also appears to have a slight sky obsession this Wimbledon, and sparked conversation amongst his community with this ”what do you see?” tweet

Roger seemed to enjoy some of the responses too….

It is great to see players take to Twitter to give an insight into their thoughts, feelings and personalities at an event that ranks as the pinnacle of the sport, and the highlight in the annual ATP and WTA calendar. As we transition from the middle Sunday to the ‘business end’ of Wimbledon 2014, I look forward to seeing yet more fun, reactive and heart felt Twitter activity from the players.

Article written by Andreas Plastiras

This is a guest post by Andreas Plastiras

When Britain’s Andy Murray reached the pinnacle of his sport by recording his first Wimbledon victory – becoming Britain’s first male champion since the great Fred Perry some 77 years ago – the feel good factor around tennis in the UK soared to new heights. One could argue, therefore, that classic Belgian beer brand Stella Artois selected an ideal time to re-associate itself with the sport by sponsoring the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic – an upmarket tournament that took place at the Hurlingham club, London between June 17-21st. Indeed, this represented the first foray into tennis for Stella in the UK, since it gave up its title sponsorship of the Queens Club in 2008. Further more, the brand launched its Connoisseur Series – “a collection of exclusive video portraits, each providing an intimate look into the world of renowned quality craftsmen” – to be shown on its newly launched UK-specific YouTube channel. And two weeks prior to Murray’s historical victory at SW19, Stella Artois published a video to the channel – as part of its digital campaign launched in early June – concentrating on the former world number five, charismatic Frenchman Henri Leconte; and it is this uniquely shot video that I wish to focus this article on.

Leconte’s video is the fourth in a series of published videos that sees Stella Artois capture an insight into the minds of renowned directors such as Wim Wenders and stars of the sporting world such as Polo player Jamie Morrison. Each video in the series is preceded by a short 20 second trailer (of which Leconte’s trailer has received the highest number of views of any video published to the channel) and directs fans to the Stella Artois UK Facebook page where more related content, including further Tennis activations revolving around the serve and the chalice glass can be found.

In his video, Henri Leconte provides his compelling views on his own journey to the professional game, and the passion and dedication required to reach such heights. The former French Open Doubles winner also casts an interesting assessment into the more “pressured” and “results” based state the game is currently in, which Leconte suggests raises the importance of individual personality and character to shine through and assist players in thriving in such an environment. Of course, this is neatly related to the unique and steady “pouring ritual” required to perfect the skill of providing the perfect pint of Stella – a distinctive appeal of the brand.

The videos encapsulate the classic essence of the Stella Artois brand and subtly links the key advertising focus of the “chalice glass” with a high quality, well-shot film that has enabled Stella to effectively begin the process of re establishing its tennis association in the UK; there has never been a better time do so.

Article by Andreas Plastiras. Check out his blog Snap-Shot Sport
Pic by Tennis Buzz, Roland Garros 2012.

Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl

What a summer of sport it has been for Britain. The Olympics were widely regarded as one of the best in history, and the outstanding performance of Team GB resulted in 65 medals in total (29 of which were gold). Great Britain’s chef de mission, Andy Hunt summed it up perfectly when he told the BBC “This is our greatest performance of our greatest team at the greatest Olympics ever.” Yet, for me, the greatest British sporting moment of this year arrived just last week, on the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York at approximately 2:00am GMT on Monday 10th September, when Andy Murray outlasted great friend and rival Novak Djokovic to win his maiden Grand Slam title.

I am sure that when Murray ends his career – hopefully with many more Grand Slam titles to his name – he will look back at this summer and regard it as the most pivotal of his career. Indifferent public opinion of the 25 year old Scot changed for the better after a teary conclusion to his match with the great Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final, before winning Olympic Gold by beating the same opponent three weeks later, again at Wimbledon, confirmed his own belief that he could compete at the very top level.

He now has a US Open championship to his name – the first man to achieve this award since Fred Perry – ironically on exactly the same day some 76 years ago. Upon reflecting on his success, I looked at how Murray’s first Slam win had been received on social media, and whether Murray himself had initiated conversations through his own social profiles.

Twitter:

Between September 10th-11th , mentions of Andy Murray’s Twitter profile (@Andy_Murray) or his name alone received 405,210 mentions, 78% of the total mentions (519,908) made from between August 23rd – September 14th. Included in this figure were a number of tweets from highly influential profiles, many of which congratulated Murray on his win.

Mentions were unprovoked considering that the last tweet posted by the man himself via his @Andy_Murray Twitter profile was made on June 9th, and were largely positive (14%) or neutral (82%) in sentiment. There may have been a missed opportunity here for Murray in not tweeting at any stage pre, during or post event to connect with his digital fan base on Twitter. Whilst he accumulated over 29,000 new followers between the 10th-11th September (total folowers currently stands at 1,242,203), one wonders how much greater this figure could have been should he have been actively tweeting after his win. Perhaps a tweet featuring an image of himself lifting the trophy or expressing his excitement at sharing the moment with his two dogs Maggie May and Rusty? I’m just speculating, but you can be sure that the number of retweets, @Mentions, @Replies and followers on his profile would all have increased significantly further.

Facebook:

In contrast to his inactivity on Twitter, it was a very different story on his Facebook profile. Fourteen public posts related to his Slam win were created in just two days post event, with content varying from sponsor videos, media interview highlights and imagery of him holding the US Open trophy aloft. From the 10th-12th September, the page also accumulated 41,831 page ‘likes’, with the overall total currently standing at 829,099.

In terms of post engagement (likes+fans+shares/fans on the day) the most successful post (121,846 engagement score) featured Murray kissing the trophy. A simple post that did not need a description. The image captured the emotion and importance of the win to Murray and was posted shortly after his victory. There have been nearly 6,000 comments on that specific post, and the vast majority are overwhelmingly positive.

It is clear that Murray’s public perception has improved hugely over the course of the summer, and I believe that there lies an opportunity for him to grow his popularity still further by connecting with fans through his social platforms. He is doing so on Facebook and has done so on Twitter in the past and that is why I was slightly surprised not to see any tweets relating to his summer accomplishments.

By Andreas Plastiras. Check out his blog: Snap-Shot Sport

I was fortunate enough to get hold of a ticket to Court 3 at the All England Championships for the middle Saturday of the event. The day comprised beautiful weather, a stunning view of the action and I even witnessed history, as Yaroslava Shvedova won the first set of her match against Sara Errani in just 16 minutes and without dropping a point – a first for the WTA.

I also used my time at Wimbledon to keep a watchful eye over the sponsor activity both at the event, and around the surrounding area (Images at the bottom of the page)…

At the Event:

– On court branding, as per usual was seen from Slazenger (balls), IBM (service speed boards), Rolex (above scoreboard), Robinsons (bottles places strategically below umpire chair), Evian (water bottles provided to players) and Ralph Lauren (umpire, line judges and ball kids uniforms.)

IBM and HSBC booths located alongside one another near to Centre Court, and whilst the former raised awareness of the technologies it uses to generate statistical match analysis, the latter took the opportunity to enable its customers to gain a voucher offering free strawberries and cream.

Sony also acquired its own booth whereby fans could sample its 3D television technology. Upon entering, visitors were handed a leaflet that invited them to successfully guess the correct number of games that will be played in the men’s final (which will be shown in 3D at various cinemas) to stand a chance of winning a 40” Bravia television.

– As the official champagne of the championships, Lanson handed out leaflets that entitled spectators to a a £5 discount off of its products, whilst a competition enabled entrants to win a case of its new White Label champagne.

– The bright pink coloured Evian café included a large image of ambassador Maria Sharapova (who recently signed an extension to her deal with Evian) and gave people a chance to enjoy a quiet drink ahead of a busy day’s play

Digital:

– The stand out digital activity has been seen from Evian, where its #evianballhunt campaign gave consumers the chance to win VIP tickets to Wimbledon. Participants were given clues via Facebook and Twitter (@Evian_UK) as to the whereabouts of an Evian ball boy, and were asked to check in upon finding his location to stand a chance of winning.

– Official timekeeper Rolex invited visitors to its global YouTube channel where classic Wimbledon moments could be relived, whilst long-term ambassador Roger Federer also featured in short video interview as part of its “Rolex Rendezvous” series.

Slazenger launched a game via a Facebook app that required competitors to play a game of “keepy uppy” and score as many points as possible in a set period of time. Scores could be shared on Facebook.

Hertz launched a video diaries series via the “Live @ Wimbledon” tab accessible on both the official Wimbledon website and accompanying mobile app. Content consisted of player interviews whilst en-route to the grounds – official automotive partner of the French Open, Peugeot also did something similar earlier this year as part of its “Road to Roland Garros” series.

IBM has been raising awareness of its services through the launch of a video uploaded to its YouTube channel showcasing its new cloud technology. Along with the informative video, the brand is responsible for the official mobile app of the championships. A new feature on both the official Wimbledon website and the mobile app is the “Live @ Wimbledon” tab, which enables users to drop in at matches during key points.

Other Prominent Signage/Messaging:

– Upon walking through Wimbledon Village on my way down to the courts, I couldn’t help but notice prominent Evian branding, primarily through a number of flags that had been placed above shops around the village featuring the Wimbledon logo.

– Meanwhile, logistics company and ATP partner FedEx continued to use its “Live to Deliver” strapline on the sides of busses in the local area to promote its various business offerings

Hertz branding was visible on the sides of taxi’s transporting visitors to and from the grounds, outlining that is “driving the championships.”

– Upon exiting Wimbledon station visitors were greeted by an M&S display promoting its half price strawberries and cream offer. Platform ads could also be seen.

– Web domain site Go Daddy.com had acquired a large outdoor space opposite Wimbledon station and used tennis imagery and the tag line “take advantage” to promote its services (the brand has become well known in the US for its edgy and sexy Superbowl commercials.)

– ATP partner Compeed sent its “hit squad” to the surrounding area to issue free samples of its blister protection pads to spectators, demonstrating an understanding of the long distance walking required for those queuing for tickets.

NB Compeed ambassador and women’s world number one Caroline Wozniacki has fronted much of the brand’s recent advertising including this Pan-European TV commercial.

All in all, a cracking day out, and from my experience of the Wimbledon championships 2012, it seems clear that OOH has been a key part of the strategies of ambush advertisers, whilst official sponsors have in the main sought to put smiles on the faces of spectators by making the day out as stress free and enjoyable as possible, whilst also throwing in the odd competition or two…

All pics by Andreas, except Sam Stosur’s pic (source Sam Stosur Official Facebook)