By Dario Pennino (DP Sport Management)
The connection between tennis and other sports is strong at times and crossed sponsorships are not unusual. An example is the big role played by Mercedes-Benz in the world of tennis, especially on the ATP tour, where they have been the main sponsor for many years. But the German car company has often found a great impact in the sport via direct sponsorships like in the case of Li Na. To talk about this important deal, we contacted Jan Weber, responsible for Global Communications and Sports Communications at Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart.
Mercedes is a brand with a significant presence in the sport and tennis industry: which is the story and evolution of it? When the company started to communicate in the tennis?
From 1996 to 2008 Mercedes-Benz was partner of the ATP and inventor of the netpost signage (star in the net). For the last 37 years, Mercedes-Benz has been the title sponsor of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.
Which tennis tournaments do you sponsor?
Since MB is not a ATP sponsor anymore, we – as headquarter – are not responsible for the main communication, but the different MB market centers can work differently (like US-Open in America, or even Madrid and Vienna).
Do you feel some tournament is more important for you, maybe those in Germany?
Every tournament we activate fits the brand and thus, it is the central part of the sponsoring strategy. However, we as MB headquarter are only responsible for the MercedesCup.
Mercedes immediately understood the significance and potential of ambassadors from the sports. Since entering the world of tennis, Mercedes has maintained a very large number of tennis ambassadors. Who they are today, which one you think is very special for you.
Regarding brand ambassadors, the markets choses the player who better matches Mercedes-Benz in terms of image, lifestyle and attitudes. For instance, a brand ambassador of MB Switzerland and USA is Roger Federer, for China is still Li Na.
You also have had some ambassadors in the past. Who did support Mercedes to get more popularity at that time?
Boris Becker. For sure.
Do you think Mercedes has a specific approach in terms of tennis-marketing compared to the other car-makers?
Tennis does not take a central role in Mercedes’ global sport sponsoring strategy anymore. How strong tennis is for Mercedes-Benz depends by the local interests of the different MB subsidiaries in the specific markets. In some country the brand is still very active, like Germany (Mercedes Cup) and USA (US Open).
Are you thinking about increasing the investments in the tennis and sport as general strategy?
We do not speak about our investments in general. Thank you for your understanding.
Does Mercedes use publicity to communicate its commitment to the tennis? Do you prefer magazines, social medias, TVs?
As a matter of fact, publicity is a very important tool to communicate our sports commitments. The media that we decide to involve depends on the goals we want to achieve – e.g. regarding the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, we activate all medias – TVs, print, radio and social media.
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