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Marketing Communications: Promotion Strategy for Wimbledon

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Published: Mon, 15 Jan 2018

BACKGROUND AND INTRODUCTION

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (“Club”) located at Wimbledon, is a private club founded in 1868. Its first ground was situated off Worple Road, Wimbledon, and the first Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship was instituted in 1877. By the turn of the century, Wimbledon, as the event had become known had grown in popularity and reputation, acquiring international status as the premier tennis event. By 1920, a company was formed to acquire and equip the present site at Church Road. A complex agreement governs and defines the relationship between the Club, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the company, and Wimbledon as a self financing event. Profits from Wimbledon, held during June and July of each year, accrue to the LTA after meeting expenses of the Wimbledon tournament. LTA in turn utilises the surplus funds to develop tennis as a sport in Great Britain. A second company to exploit trademarks and brand opportunities was established in 1993, whereby any profits would accrue for the benefit of Wimbledon to improve the quality of the event for spectators, players, officials, and stakeholders. Surplus funds from Wimbledon that have been made available to LTA were 25.8 million in 2003. Wimbledon does not disclose revenue or sponsorship figures but it is estimated that it had a net income of £ 34 million during 2004. (Wimbledon 2005 and Schwartz, 2004)

Wimbledon, as an event does not appear to have a vision statement defined by Johnson and Scholes (2005) p13 as a “desired future state” or “aspirational statement.” Wimbledon has equally not published a mission statement, or “overriding purpose in line with the values or expectations of stakeholders.” (Johnson and Scholes, 2005, p13) However, given the close association with the LTA described above, it can be argued that the event’s underlying vision and mission are aligned and it is appropriate to quote the LTA’s vision, “to make Britain a great tennis nation,” and the mission statement, “more players, better players,” to give context to Wimbledon. (LTA, 2005) Wimbledon is marketed as an international event rather than a British event although British tennis derives the economic benefit. (Cambridge Econometrics, 2003)

Essentially a small business employing less than 100 full time staff, the club is a local tennis facility in South West London, with a web site, clubhouse, museum, and a shop for 50 weeks of the year. Its distinguishing feature is a seating capacity of 35,500 spectators to accommodate Wimbledon. The total area of the club including courts, premises, and car parks is 42 acres. There are 375 full members plus a number of honorary members (including past singles champions) and approximately 100 temporary members elected annually. The workforce increases to 6000 during the period of the tournament. (Wimbledon, 2005)

This report focuses on Wimbledon as a discrete, ring fenced event. It proposes an marketing communications strategy to the Club and the LTA committee, after due consideration of the macro, micro and market influences.

MACRO-ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS

The environmental context of Wimbledon encompasses a number of driving or restraining forces that have the capacity to influence the effectiveness of the communication strategy.

PESTEL

A common framework is that of PESTEL comprising political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environmental, and legal influences. (Johnson and Scholes, 2005.) Fill (2002) suggests that seasonality is an additional factor in an event environment. The framework provides broad data from which the key drivers of change can be identified.

Mega events on the scale of Wimbledon, which target an international market, and the success of which influences urban logistics such as transport and security, requires significant political support. (Bull, 2004) The United Kingdom government has established a set process for government involvement and investment that requires a clear assessment of benefits. This should also be seen in the context of post September 11th security concerns that may affect Wimbledon. (Strategy Unit, 2002) The positive economic benefits in terms of tourism expenditure and promotion of London as a destination highlight the interdependence of the PESTEL influences and the host city. Socio-cultural influences such as changing population demographics in Wimbledon’s target audience needs to be considered in terms of media access and viewing patterns. (Fill, 2002) Emerging technologies were used during 2004 as innovative mediums for the first time to expand the audience reach. These included a combination of online media, video on demand, interactive television, and live coverage to Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) and mobile phones.

The impact on promotion strategy in the lead up to and during the championship requires careful analysis to maximise audience reach. (Schwartz, 2004) The environmental impact of Wimbledon is substantial, albeit over a short period, in terms of noise, traffic, waste management and other influences. The Merton borough in which the event is located is revenue dependant on Wimbledon’s success as part of its urban regeneration programme and hence supports the event upon which it in turn derives a benefit. An emerging influence is that of corporate social responsibility and re-investment back into the community. This has a positive impact on legal influences such as council regulations and bylaws. (Gratton et al, 1999) Seasonality affects Wimbledon in terms of weather and the time of year in which the event is held. (Fill, 2002 and Wimbledon, 2005)

Porter’s Five Forces

Inherent to the theory of marketing communication strategy is the notion of competitiveness and gaining advantage over competitors. Porter’s development of generic strategies and a five forces model of analysis of competition within an industry are useful in understanding Wimbledon as a unique event. (Johnson and Scholes, 2005) Wimbledon’s prestige and history allows it to follow a differentiated premium pricing strategy in which the objective is to “maintain the quality and character of the tournament and not to maximise income.” (Wimbledon, 2005) Although Wimbledon is a profitable venture in the event industry, the barrier to entry to a rival wishing to compete is high and the prestige of Wimbledon not substitutable in terms of world attention and focus. Buyer power is limited by the spectator facilities and hence access in high demand, whilst are suppliers fragmented without a single dominant player. Competitive rivalry between Wimbledon and other events is not material and hence unlikely to threaten Wimbledon. Arguably Wimbledon’s position may be threatened in the future if the dynamics of the macro environment change. However a marketing communication strategy that builds on the successes of the past that continues to capitalise on innovative, leading edge communication strategies will ensure an image re-invention for future audiences.

Product Life Cycle

Wimbledon has changed its strategy from the garden party approach of the early 20th century through the skilful use of technology for its target audience in the 21st century, demonstrating that whilst in a mature phase of the life cycle model as a brand, it can maintain market share through re-invention of its product delivery. (Czinkota, Ronkainen, and Tarrant, 1995)

MICRO-ENVIRONMENT ANALYSIS

Strategic Resources

The analysis of the macro-environment has indicated Wimbledon’s positive base for competitive advantages. The sustainability of competitive advantage in terms of capability is based on strategic resourcing that reflects the distinctive resources which allow the Club and its partners to generate a superior product at a premium price. This is based on Wimbledon’s tangible resources such as facilities and grounds as well as intangible resources such as information, reputation, and knowledge. Wimbledon’s competencies are represented by the activities and processes whereby it deploys its resources year on year, building, and learning from successes of the past and ensuring that they cannot be imitated, thus sustaining its competitive advantage. The path dependency of Wimbledon’s resources has evolved through its culture and history that is influenced by causal ambiguity implying that worldwide perception of Wimbledon would be difficult to replicate. (Johnson and Scholes, 2005)

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a key element of an integrated marketing communications plan. The concept has evolved from McCarthy’s 4P’s (product, price, place, and promotion) into different models that depend on their context. Recent developments have been the addition of personnel, physical assets, and procedures to the marketing mix forming the 7P’s in Booms and Bitner’s extended marketing mix model. This has especially reached acceptance in the discipline of services marketing and arguably Wimbledon’s combination of tangible and intangible resources, falls within that category. (Goldsmith, R. E. 1999) Goldsmith, 1999, p178 proposes an eighth P, “personalisation” in terms of individual needs and wants of the consumer. Wimbledon’s product offering is based on a combination of tangible cues represented by its physical offering, and intangible attributes such as prestige and status of the event.

Premium brands such as Rolex have for example endorsed Wimbledon in their capacity as the “official timekeeper of the tournament” for over 25 years at a cost of approximately £7 million. (Schwartz, 2004) Direct pricing is represented by the gate price for access, and indirect pricing through the sale of television rights to channels such as the BBC and NBC TV, to attract worldwide viewer audiences. The personnel or people component is represented by pride with which employees and volunteers provide quality services to the public and players. (Schwartz, 2004) The top players themselves compete for the privilege of playing and hence are frontline line actors both directly and indirectly in the service space. Personalisation can be demonstrated by the clever use of technology. For example the BBC has provided interactive television coverage allowing five simultaneous live matches on one screen that allowed viewers to personalise their choice of matches thus capturing 4 million viewers in 2004. (Schwartz, 2004)

Competitors

The Davis Cup is an international team competition introduced in 1900 by American player Dwight Davis. Originally called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy, while initially only two teams participated (the USA and Great Britain), the competition has grown into an event in which over 100 nations now participate. It is a roving event and has been hosted at the Wimbledon grounds from time to time. The event itself has the same target market as Wimbledon but complements rather than competes with the championship event. Wimbledon therefore arguably has no competitors in terms of its positioning. (Wimbledon, 2005)

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) illustrated below in Table 1, is often used as a convenient summary of key issues from the business environment that may potentially impact on an organisation’s marketing communication strategy. (Johnson and Scholes, 2005.) The purpose is to identify the strategic options available to Wimbledon. A detailed analysis is beyond the scope of this report but Table 1 below illustrates focal elements that will be discussed in the creative proposal.

Table 1: SWOT Matrix

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

Prestige brand-considered heritage and cultural symbol

Limited spectator space

Extremely popular

Small retail space

Loyal following internationally

Limited space for expansion

Well organised

 

Increasing visitor numbers

 

Attended by top ranked players

 

Spectator demographics

 

OPPORTUNITIES

THREATS

Joint promotion and marketing with London as a destination.

Weather: visitor number dependant on good weather.

Increased retail opportunities via the Internet

Security

Commercial use of brand

 

MARKET ANALYSIS

This section of the report considers key figures and statistics relevant to Wimbledon as a basis for a creative proposal.

Attendance

Figures from the early 20th century are not available but in 1932 219,000 spectators attended the event. The 400,000 barrier was broken in 1986 and a record attendance of 490,081 in 2001 when play was extended into a fourteenth day. (Wimbledon, 2005)

Table 2: Daily Attendance 2000-2004

 

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

Monday

39,330

38,561

38,561

38,500

35,335*

Tuesday

41,320

40,995

40,995

41,929

34,312*

Wednesday

41,146

42,457

42,457

40,787

29,156**

Thursday

41,440

41,410

41,410

41,976

36,130

Friday

40,834

41,440

41,440

39,833

39,659

Saturday

40,043

41,595

41,595

38,913

32,746**

Sunday

       

22,155*

First Week

244,113

244,740

244,740

241,938

229,493

Monday

38,247

41,236

38,764

39,389

39,229

Tuesday

34,083

38,375

34,448*

34,696

34,041

Wednesday

31,789

36,969

32,367*

35,911

33,703*

Thursday

29,718

30,120

33,560

30,237*

29,404*

Friday

28,303

28,813

28,016*

29,872

28,254*

Saturday

27,542

27,770*

27,857

28,216

27,956

Sunday

29,806*

29,315

29,762

30,543

29,128

Monday

9159

13,370

     

TOTAL

455,752

490,081

469,514

470,802

451,208

* Bad Weather (more than 2 hours lost) ** Entire Day Rained Off

(Source: Wimbledon, 2005)

The table above clearly illustrates the effect of bad weather with significant decreases in spectator numbers due to cancelled matches. The wet weather refund policy to spectators attempt to compensate spectators who are an important element of Wimbledon theatre. Weather negatively influences viewers when coverage is not available which in turn may affect sponsors through loss of on-sold advertising revenues. However, plans for the remodelling of Centre Court at Wimbledon were unveiled in January 2004 and included a transparent, retractable roof over the centre court as well as an increase in spectator capacity.

Revenue

Wimbledon derives revenue from entrance tickets, “official suppliers,” or sponsors, media distribution and broadcasting rights. Ticket sales are not the primary source of revenue with a maximum income estimated at £20 million using average ticket prices. The 15 official suppliers contribute an estimated gross income of £120 million. Wimbledon does not publish revenue or sponsorship figures and the aforementioned figures are estimates. NBC TV for example pays an estimated £7 million for broadcasting rights. (Schwartz, 2004 and Wimbledon, 2005)

Official Suppliers provide goods and services, which are both essential for the staging of Wimbledon, and which meet the Club’s objective of improving the quality of the service provided to the players, spectators and the media. For example, Rolex appears on court scoreboards as the official timekeeper and Hertz provides transport for the players. (Schwartz, 2004 and Wimbledon, 2005)

Demand for Wimbledon tickets has for decades exceeded supply. Tickets are also sold through the LTA and to their affiliated tennis clubs, schools, membership scheme and to foreign tennis associations. Wimbledon remains one of the very few major UK sporting events for which one can still buy premium tickets on the day. Each day (excluding the last four days, approximately 500 are specifically reserved for sale at the turnstiles. Ground tickets may also be purchased on the day of play on every day. Costs of pre-booked tickets range from £24 to £59 or £4 or £16 sold on the day. Every five years centre court Wimbledon debentures are sold. The issue of 2,300 debentures for the 2006-2010 Championships inclusive has already been oversubscribed. Each debenture, priced at £23,150 (nominal value £2,000, a premium of £18,000 and VAT of £3,150), entitles the holder to a reserved seat in Centre Court on each day of the tournament during the five year period. (Schwartz, 2004, and Wimbledon, 2005)

The lack of detailed financial information does not allow a realistic or accurate comparison with Wimbledon’s competitors in the international arena.

Target Market

Wimbledon has an 82.4% adult television reach in Britain during the tournament. UK Sport suggests that tennis tournaments and Wimbledon in particular to the younger ABC1 income group with a gender bias towards a women audience for British success in sport. Accurate figures for the world audience are not readily available. (Taylor Nelson and Sofres, 2002)

Hassan, Kraft, and Kortam, (2003) suggest that the scale and reach of an event such as Wimbledon requires rethinking in terms of a converging commonality of a global consumer’s interest in the event. They recommend an avoidance of over complex marketing plans that rise above domestic or micro buyer attitudes, motivation, and behavioural demographics commonly used for segmentation in local markets.

CREATIVE PROPOSAL

The proposal to Wimbledon’s committee is to leverage the existing brand equity associated with the tournament in order to improve perceptions of tennis in the broader international environment as basis for entrenching Wimbledon’s position as the premier international tennis event. The concept is a natural extension of the LTA’s British vision to that of the international arena and represents an affirmation of Wimbledon’s commitment to the principles of corporate social responsibility. It is suggested that the current “tennis ace” campaign of identifying talented, but economically disadvantaged players be extended to the third world whereby winners would be invited to celebrity matches during the tournament hence leveraging off the existing promotional mix of the event. (LTA, 2005, and Wimbledon, 2005)

Brand equity is a measure of a number of differing components including beliefs, images, and core associations that consumers have about a particular brand such as Wimbledon. A brand with strong equity has the capacity to strengthen barriers to entry and ensure sustainable competitive advantage, and in so doing, maintain premium pricing. (Johnson and Scholes, 2005) An integrated marketing communication strategy has an important role to play to ensure consistency of message across domestic and international marketing initiatives. (Fill, 2002)

The marketing communication objectives will be to raise levels of awareness amongst stakeholders with respect to Wimbledon’s commitment to developing tennis as a sport internationally and more particularly in potential future markets in the developing world. In order to achieve this objective, Wimbledon will have to maintain its position as an important contributor to the LTA and hence it’s commitment to Britain, but at the same time extend the awareness of its developmental commitment to tennis globally. Suitably credible spokespersons representing tournament winners will be important balance the possible conflicting interests of LTA domestically and Wimbledon internationally.

CAMPAIGN

A campaign is a unique combination of advertising, promotional events, public relations and other marketing communication activities that all express the same consistent message. When implemented effectively, they present a cumulative strategic message to the target markets under a collective symbolic umbrella whilst enhancing the emotional connection to a brand. (Robinson and Hauri, 1991) The proposed campaign methodology for Wimbledon is a gentile form of ambush marketing in that the official suppliers and television broadcasters will provide the communication channel for the initiative. A programme definition, scope, and schedule of activity will be constructed for the “tennis ace” project to coincide with the promotional strategies that lead up to the tournament. (Arens, 1999)

The indirect endorsement by mega brands such as American Express, Hertz, and Rolex will add to the strength of the message. It is Wimbledon’s stated objective that free-to-air television, and radio access across the world should be made available for all or part of the tournament and by default, to the developing world and emerging markets. (Wimbledon, 2005) This will ensure accessibility to talented players participating in the scheme and arouse local country interest in the programme.

Campaign scheduling would automatically align with the promotional activities of official suppliers and broadcasters. The profile and push strategy defining the campaign is estimated at £1.2 million, including concept, creative and limited internal marketing with a £500,000 budget for control and evaluation. Important to note is that an estimated 1.8 billion people in 164 countries watched 5,700 hours of Wimbledon coverage in 2004 through existing channel arrangements. (Schwartz, 2004)

Control and evaluation would be affected partly through external agencies such as the sponsors and broadcasters, but Wimbledon would be responsible for overall message delivery and control. Focus groups, tracking studies of awareness and perception and recall tests will be used to monitor the impact of the campaign. In particular the marketing communication objectives will be assessed regularly as the main form of evaluation. (Fill, 2002)

CONCLUSION

This reported has reviewed the external and internal environments of a highly successful event with the objective of leveraging off existing competitive advantages to entrench an already strong position as a means of expansion into potential new markets. It takes cognisance of the emerging importance of corporate social responsibility in terms of itself and its official suppliers and establishes a cost efficient programme to meet international requirements whilst contributing to its own future success.

REFERENCES

Aarens, W. F. (1999) Contemporary Advertising, International Edition. Irwin, McGraw Hill.

Bull, A. O. (2004) “Mega Or Multi-Mini? Comparing The Value To A Destination Of Different Policies Towards Events.” Unpublished paper presented at Third DeHaan Tourist Management Conference, 14 December 2004.

Cambridge Econometrics. (2003) “The Value of the Sports Economy in the Regions: the Case of London.” Sports England.

Czinkota, M. , Ronkainen, I. A. and Tarrant, J. J. (1995) The Global Marketing Imperative. Lincolnwood, Illinois, NTC Business Books.

Fill, C. (2002) Marketing Communications: Contexts, Strategies and Applications. London, Financial Times, Prentice Hall.

Getz, D. (1997) Event Management and Event Tourism. New York, Cognizant Communications.

Goldsmith, R. E. (1999) “The Personalised Marketplace: Beyond the 4P’s.” Marketing Intelligence and Planning. Volume 17, 4.

Gratton, C., Shibli, S. and Coleman, R. (1999) The Economic Benefits of Hosting Major Sporting Events. Insights.

Hassan, S. S., Craft, S. and Kortam, W. (2003) “Understanding the New Bases for Global Market Segmentation.” Journal of Consumer Marketing. Volume 20, 5.

Johnson, G., and Scholes, K. (2005) Exploring Corporate Strategy Seventh Edition. Harlow, Pearson Education Ltd.

LTA. (2005) Lawn Tennis Association. www.lta.org.uk Accessed 21 April 2005.

Robinson, W. A. and Hauri, C. (1991) Promotional Marketing. Lincolnwood, Illinois, NTC Business Books.

Strategy Unit. (2002) “Game Plan: A Game Plan for Delivering Government’s Sport and Physical Activity Objectives.” www.number-10.gov.uk. Accessed 19 April 2005.

Schwartz, J. A. (2004) Wimbledon’s Marketing Grand Slam. www.imediaconnection.com. Accessed: 21 April 2005.

Taylor, Nelson and Sofres (2002) UK Sporting Preferences. UK Sport.

UK Sport

Wimbledon. (2005) “All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club: the Official Web Site.” www.wimbledon.org. Accessed: 20 April 2005.


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