Wimbledon kicked off Monday for approximately the 136th time. Pure white outfits contrasted with brilliant green grass emotes a sense of luxury and tradition. Wimbledon is a unique property in that it has some of the longest-running and most synonymous sponsorships in the whole of the sporting world. Slazenger and Wimbledon go back 110 years, Robinsons and Wimbledon 75 years, and Rolex and Wimbledon 30 years.
These sponsors, or ‘suppliers’ as Wimbledon classifies them, receive no traditional field of play branding and none of the other usual rights associated with such a tournament or event. You won’t see any perimeter boards at Wimbledon. Product placement rules this event. IBM manages the tournament scoring so is present on the scoreboards. Robinsons supplies the drinks so Robinson’s bottles appear on the umpire chairs ready for the players to grab. Rolex is the official timekeeper so their clocks are used on-court, Slazenger provides the tennis balls, and Ralph Lauren provides the officials and ballboy uniforms. All serve a purpose for the tournament and appear exactly where consumers expect to see them. The link to Wimbledon is logical and this helps the brands to build an emotive relationship with tennis fans from its target audience.
In fact the equity in the Wimbledon brand is so strong that many other brands pay to be part of the event, even though they are invisible to the TV audience. And here’s the key for sponsorship. It’s not just a badging exercise. Licensing the equity that Wimbledon has allows brands to use just the association across their own marketing mixes. Those who integrate their sponsorship more reap the rewards when it comes to consumer behavior and perception. Leveraging the prestige that comes with the Wimbledon brand delivers greater exposure than any on court presence.