Tennis Serves Up Creative Advertising to Court Young Players

What’s one of the most important qualities for a person, a company or organization to have? Adaptability.

Times and technology change quickly, especially these days. And if you’re not keeping up, your competitors will most likely pass you by.

One of the places this need to change is significant is in sports…specifically tennis. Many professional sports leagues are suffering, but probably none more than tennis.

Storybook picture of scared cartoon girl on tennis court

On weekends, as you drive by field after field, you can see for sure that soccer is the most prevalent sport among kids. Tennis courts stay pretty empty. Professional tennis in the United States is at risk of losing its audience and future players.

Tennis is like a corporation that’s been around for 100 years. It’s slow to change and holds tight to its conservative roots. But in the past few years, it’s been breaking out of its shell.

First, they allowed review and seamlessly incorporated it into each match, without causing much delay. The audience, the players and the court umpire all view the replay together. Talk about transparency! Other professional sports should follow tennis’ lead.

Next, tennis organizations paid more attention to promotion and advertising. For example, not only did they decide to make an official series out of the pre-U.S. Open tournaments, but they used some rocking, tennis-star-filled advertisements to encourage interest. Increased ratings proved their efforts paid off.

Most recently, they’re trying to get more kids involved by adapting what trainers have been doing for years. They’re changing rules, equipment and court size to help kids play and grow in the sport.

One of the things about this that excites me—both as a creative professional and a tennis fan—is actually the advertising that announces this rule change. This humorous commercial with Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi targets—and mentions—its enemy. Please watch:

Two superstars of tennis, a great sense of humor and the willingness to actually mention the sport that is kicking their ass among youngsters are just a few of the reasons I love this ad. Plus, the illustration and animation in the storybook are fantastic!

Tennis in the United States is not dead yet, and it’s proving that old, stodgy institutions can change with the times. As a fan, I wish they had changed sooner. As a marketer, I’m also hoping they can inspire other conservative organizations to embrace the truth and move forward with humor and gusto.

What organizations would you like to see learn from this example?

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Want to see another example of positive sportsmanship and fan friendliness in tennis? Check out this fun video of Andre Agassi and Marat Safin playing with the fans and a ball boy during a delay.

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2 comments

  1. Interesting. I was not aware of the new rules for 10 and under. That is awesome. I started playing tennis at age 5 and played all through high school. I don’t remember ever feeling threatened by the court size or anything. Maybe that’s why I stuck with it for so long. For a time, I even aspired to be a tennis pro.

    • ctmarcom · August 23, 2011

      When I learned, we started at the service line and then moved back. Trainers have been accommodating kids in different ways for years. It’s nice to see their efforts being adopted. Tennis definitely needs to do something to catch the young. That’s great that you had such a good experience, especially at such a young age. Reminds me of footage of a very young Agassi (probably 4 or 5) on the courts.

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