Late in 2016, tennis legends including Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer and John McEnroe unveiled one of the most innovative concepts in the game’s modern age, the Laver Cup.
Created by 20-time grand slam champion Federer, the tournament pits Europe’s top six male tennis players against counterparts from the rest of the world over three days of scintillating tennis at a new host city every September.
Two months ago the Association of Tennis Professionals announced that the Laver Cup is to become an officially sanctioned ATP Tour event. In light of this decision, and as Wimbledon draws to an end, the Laver Cup’s unique benefits compared to grand slam events comes into sharp focus and warrants closer inspection.
Every sporting partnership’s aim is to engage with fans in an emotionally charged environment, becoming an integral part of their experience. For a partnership to succeed it must be genuinely anchored to an event fans want to attend.
For fledgling events such as the Laver Cup, this can be a stumbling block, as these tournaments simply don’t have the necessary fan engagement and spectator numbers to entice corporate partners.
The format of the Laver Cup offers one of the most effective avenues to engage with potential customers, however, helping to ensure high fan attendance.
The fact that the top six players on the Tour – plus three captain’s picks per team – play every year ensures high demand for tickets. The event’s first two editions, at Prague’s O2 Arena in 2017 and Chicago’s United Centre in 2018, sold out.
The ATP factor
The ATP is enjoying record attendances at Tour events, reaching 4.5m in 2017.
Much like The Ryder Cup, which an American or European city hosts every two years, the Laver Cup provides an exceptional opportunity for brands to speak to fans on a global scale, which wouldn’t be possible if partnering with a geographically static tournament.
Fans have embraced the new concept, which has become increasingly popular year on year, highlighting its viability to brands who understand that their target market sits within a tennis-focused arena.
While the tournament offers partners a bespoke opportunity to engage within tennis, the details of the agreement showcase the audience size that they can reach.
Sponsors will have immediate access to marketing platforms, including the 6m followers across the ATP’s social channels – an instant upgrade on the Laver Cup’s 328,000 fans across the three platforms.
Additionally, it forged a partnership with Amazon Prime Video ahead of the 2018 tournament, streaming all matches live and on demand to more than 200 territories, as well as a mini-series around the tournament.
Combined with access to the Laver Cup’s digital channels, the event offers brands fan engagement on a scale usually only seen by grand slam event partners.
Read more: Why the ATP Tour is at a crossroads
The fact that the tournament remains in its infancy substantially improves its partnership potential.
In several cases the sport has provided benefits to partners supporting players, tournaments and initiatives from the very outset.
From apparel manufacturer Wilson, which has supplied tennis racquets to Roger Federer for the entirety of his career, to Rolex’s 40-year relationship as official timekeeper of Wimbledon, brands can expect surprising loyalty from tennis and the Laver Cup is no exception.
Karl Boos is an Account Manager at sports marketing agency rEvolution.