You can’t run a tennis tournament without money. It’s what keeps professional sports organizations going.
Like most tournaments, the National Bank Open earns revenue from three main sources: ticket sales, broadcasting rights and advertising partnerships.
On site, the business deals materialize as logos and emblems.
Whether it’s IGA and Sobeys, whose names grace the main stadiums, or long-time partners Rogers and National Bank, there are logos everywhere.
They’re scattered in and around the stadiums where ticket holders will recognize three or four in a single glance. In the photo below: Rogers, Peroni, IGA and BMW.
The vital (and eternal) quest for partners is led by Claude Savard.
He’s good. He’s great, actually. There’s a reason he’s spent 29 of his 32 years at Tennis Canada as vice president of business partnerships.
There are two stadiums but only one partner, since the Sobeys supermarket chain, which also owns IGA, acquired the naming rights in Montréal and Toronto in an 18-month interval.
You can see why Claude Savard and his counterpart Rob Swann, chief commercial officer at Tennis Canada in Toronto, are in constant communication. When they meet with potential partners, they can offer two different markets in terms of visibility and exclusivity.
“We build on the fact that our partners want to reach their customers. And our client base is vast,” acknowledged Savard. “First, it’s about 50% women and 50% men—one of the only sports in which the split is almost equal. So, we divide our offerings into categories and try to find the perfect match for our partners, on the site and on the screen.”
Claude Savard manages another source of revenue for Tennis Canada: broadcasting rights. Though different, the two aspects of his job merge well, since he also makes sure the partners’ logos are visible.
“It happens naturally. Of course, we ask to slightly modify some of the shots to make sure a brand appears on the screen, on the left, right, top or bottom of the frame. It’s standard practice, and everyone always collaborates.”
He also ensures that Tennis Canada’s partners have visibility on site.
“When I’m watching on TV and a logo is hidden, like if player puts the towel in the wrong place, I go down to the court during the break and fix the problem. Unlike you and the viewers, I don’t watch the match. Don’t ask me the score! I follow the logos. I don’t follow the ball—that’s not what they pay me to do,” he joked.
The competition is one thing, but it’s also important to keep ticket holders entertained between matches and when play is delayed. That’s where the marketing team comes in to support the partnerships team by maximizing partner visibility and contributing to the customer experience.
Enter marketing director Julie Gravel. Here she is next to the giant replica of the National Bank Open winner’s trophy.
“I’m proud of this huge trophy, and I’m proud of the original that my team helped design and develop,” she said. The hardware is reminiscent of two intertwined racquets with a ball resting on the strings.”
Don’t be surprised to see people taking selfies with it in the background, since that’s exactly the point.
“It’s part of what we call our Instagrammable moments. As marketers, our goal is to get people to see the brand on social media and entertain ticket holders who want a memory of their time here. The giant OBN2022 hashtag serves the same purpose.”
Another way to combine visibility and fun is the pre-match show, which features interesting content, like interviews with players and tournament organizers, as well as analysis. It’s all broadcast on the giant screens while spectators trickle in.
And don’t forget all the other fun ways to provide partners with visibility and make customers happy, like the fan quiz at the very top of the bleachers between sets.
In business, it’s all about visibility.
And imagine next summer, with the WTA in Montréal, one of the favourites may share a name with the stadium.