If you visit the official Australian Open 2012 website, you will soon realise that a concerted effort is being made to engage tennis fans via digital channels. Its social media hub – ‘Fan Centre’ even provides a ‘social leaderboard’, highlighting which players are being ‘liked’ ‘Tweeted’ about the most throughout the event. Official sponsors have recognized the opportunities presented to them through digital channels – none more so than automotive sponsor Kia.

Kia celebrates its tenth year as the major sponsor of the Australian Open, having aligned its brand with the event event back in 2002. In that time, it has provided transport to the players, officials, VIP’s and the media to and from Melbourne Park, whilst gaining exposure by featuring prominently on perimeter advertising around the courts throughout the two-week event.

Its activation around the 2012 Australian Open has featured ambassador Rafael Nadal (signed in 2006) in its global brand campaign ‘I Like It’, driving consumers online to its various, market specific Facebook pages where visitors can engage further with the brand. Its Kia Australia Facebook page contains the ‘Tennis Ball Hunt’ tab and invites fans to play an online game or download the official app, encouraging both iPhone and Android phone owners to capture tennis ball logos featured on KIA TV ads, car dealerships and outdoor posters to stand a chance of winning daily prizes, and the ultimate prize of a Kia Ria Si car.

Again via Facebook, the brand has asked the question ‘what does Nadal like?’ and featured a trailer video outlining how fans could submit their guesses in order to win tickets to the 2012 Australian Open. The competition provides a clear example of the way by which Kia is relating its wider brand communications to sport – with Nadal a key figurehead in its tennis-specific activity.

Further digital activity includes its ‘Open Drive’ video series which has has shown players providing their answers to a number of intrusive and light hearted questions whilst en-route to Melbourne Park via its YouTube channel. The campaign bares striking similarities to Peugeot’s activity around the French Open in 2011 (series of idents on Eurosport), and is clever way for official car sponsors of sporting events in general to humanize sports stars and provide genuine, engaging content to consumers both on and offline.

Additional digital activity from sponsors has seen official TV, camera and air conditioning sponsor Panasonic launch ‘Cool Moments’ via its Facebook page. The brand is using its sponsorship of the event to promote its CS/CU-E18MKR air conditioner, given the excessively hot conditions in Australia during the summer.
Official outfitter Lacoste has picked up from where it left off at December’s ATP World Tour Finals enabling fans of its Facebook page (reviewed in Insight Sports blog) to create their own virtual tennis ball, whilst racquet manufacturer Wilson is enabling fans to gain behind the scenes access to the lives of the players during this year’s first major event through video uploads to its YouTube channel.

It is clear that digital activity has been a key part of sponsors’ strategies at this year’s Australian Open – with platforms such as Facebook and YouTube being heavily utilized. It will be interesting to see whether a sponsor at one of the forthcoming Grand Slams this year turns to new social platforms – the likes of Instagram and Tumblr, for example provide creative and unique photographic opportunities to sponsors.

Enjoy the rest of the tournament!

By Andreas Plastiras

Feliciano Lopez, who has been playing Wilson racquets since he was a junior, is now as a head to toe Wilson athlete.

2012 Australian Open: Wilson collection

The new spring collection that Lopez wears at the Australian Open includes the Wilson Laser Speed Crew with tri-color burn out technology for advanced cooling within a dynamic design, a Wilson Blow Away Crew with laser cut seams for abrasion resistance and total mobility, and the Wilson Tour Ikon shoe, featuring trademarked RG technology for ultimate support and durability.

Dynamic tri-color burn out patterned short sleeve crew. Raglan crew with front chest and side contrast insets, mesh paneling for excellent zoned cooling effects.

2012 Australian Open: Wilson collection
2012 Australian Open: Wilson collection

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The Museum holds personal collections of equipment, dress and archive material relating to Wimbledon champions, pioneer players and stars of the court from each generation. This collection is continually updated with new material from competitors on the current professional circuit.

If you enjoy tennis, history of tennis and want to know more about Wimbledon behind the scenes, a visit to the Wimbledon Museum is a must-do. You can also take a Wimbledon guided tour, read my recap here.

A few pics of the player memorabilia collection.

Wimbledon Museum

Outfit worn by Bjorn Borg when he won his fifth consecutive Wimbledon victory in 1980: close-fitting Fila shirt, short shorts, headband, wristband, socks and Diadora shoes.

Wimbledon Museum

Wimbledon Museum
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Wilson introduces the exclusive limited edition racquet bag that is being carried by Roger Federer during the 2011 Wimbledon tournament. Designed specifically for Roger Federer and ideal for serious players of every level, this super six pack has been produced in limited quantities and is an opportunity to own a rare memento of Roger’s 16 Grand Slam titles.

The bag features the latest Wilson technology including Thermoguard and Moistureguard compartments to protect your racquets and gear from the elements. It also contains a large pocket to hold shoes and apparel as well as an accessory pocket for cell phone and keys. There are backpack straps with plush padding and lined for added comfort. The bag is sized to hold up to 12 rackets and is PVC free for lower environmental impact.

Buy a Wilson Roger Federer bag and you have a chance to win Roger’s gear! Go to wilson.com/tennis for more information.

Nike created a limited edition Court Ballistec 2.2 in conjunction with the US Open. The shoes were sold at the US Open, with only a limited quantity available at the US Open Nike Store. Nike and Rafael Nadal played off Wilson tennis balls and applied the tennis ball material to the Court Ballistec 2.2. A perfect idea for the US Open.
The shoe features a tennis ball-like upper with a yellow sockliner, midsole, and XDR outsole. A rubber toe cap and white Swoosh add detail.
The shoes were only available in size 15 for $40. You had the option of buying a left or right shoe for $40. This is a great collector’s item, and a better buy for people that wear size 15.

Via Niketalk