Wilson - rackets

A project for Prof. Walter Mills

By Paola Cigui



Executive Summary ...... 4

Context Analysis...... 5

Customer Context ...... 5

Business Context...... 6

Internal Context ...... 7

External Context ...... 8

Main Communication Needs ...... 9

Marketing Communications Goals...... 10

Corporate Objectives ...... 10

Marketing Communications Objectives ...... 10

Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP)...... 10

User Profile……………………………………………………………………………….…...11

Marketing Communications Strategy...... 12

Message and Creative ...... 13

Coordinated Communications Mix ...... 13

Resources ...... 15

Scheduling and Implementation ...... 14

Issues...... 16

Evaluation and Control ...... 16


Conclusion and Summary ...... 17

References ...... 18


Appendix 1: The Rackets...... 19

Appendix 2: Competitors...... 21

2 : The rackets...... 21

2.1 The rackets…………………………………………………………………….……..21 2.2 Babolat Play...... 21

Appendix 3: Global campaigns...... 21

3.1 #GenerationFast...... 21 3.2 #MyWilson...... 22

Appendix 4: Partnerships...... 23

4.1 Australian Open...... 23

4.2 ITA...... 23

4.3 Camps...... 24

Appendix 5: Marketing Communication Strategy...... 24

5.1 Point-of-purchase...... 24

5.2 Sponsorships...... 24

5.3 Social Media...... 25

Appendix 6 Communication Mix...... 25

6.1 Product Placement...... 26

Appendix 7: Scheduling and Implementation...... 26

7.1 Facebook...... 26

7.2 Twitter...... 27

7.3 Snapchat...... 27

Appendix 8: Effectiveness of the communication tools…………………………………………28

8.1 Website grader……………………………………………………………………….28



Wilson Sporting Goods Co. is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high performance equipment, apparel and accessories, and is owned by . Wilson is headquartered in Chicago, IL, with offices and staff in more than 100 countries. Since 1914, Wilson has been one and only mission: “to help everywhere reach their true potential.” (Wilson.com)

Over 100 years, Wilson has studied the powerful and symbiotic relationship an has with his/her equipment. With that relationship in mind, “the Company invents, designs and engineers game-changing products using state-of-the-art sports technologies and expertise, and the insights and ambassadorship of its 10,000 member strong Wilson Advisory Staff.” (Wilson.com)

This staff is comprised of top youth, college, amateurs, and professional athletes, teams, coaches, programs and leagues from all around the world.

Wilson Sporting Goods manufactures high-quality products for team sports, including , , , soccer, and ; racquet sports such as tennis, racquetball, and ; and . Wilson also produces , team uniforms, and both high-tech and mass- appeal sports apparel. For this project, I will be limiting my research in tennis. For tennis, Wilson provides the following equipment: rackets, , bags, , grips, accessories, apparel and . The leading products are rackets, balls and strings. My research will be centered in tennis rackets.

The present marketing communications journal analyzes the Wilson brand through three of its main marketing communication tools: point-of-purchase marketing, sponsorships and social media. The three channels provide various opportunities to reach consumers in unique ways. I will analyze the advantages of Wilson’s point-of-purchase marketing first. Wilson also affiliates its rackets with elite athletes such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Kei Nishikori, which attract

4 the other segments. In this paper, I will discuss the importance of sponsorships for Wilson. Finally,

I will discuss about the social media behind the brand that is used as a particularly effective marketing tool directed towards the younger target audiences.

I chose this brand for my project, because I am interested in learning about a communication strategy within a tennis brand. I am a tennis coach and a former tennis professional player. My official sponsor was Babolat, a French brand, which is one of the Wilson’s main competitors.

However, for this research I wanted to pick an American brand and learn about their communication strategy.



Wilson (tennis) has two main target audiences: competitive tennis players and amateurs (people who engages in tennis, on an unpaid basis). The category of competitive tennis players can be divided in two subcategories: professional tennis players (who compete in ATP/WTA professional tennis tournaments with price money) and junior tennis players (children and young adults from 6 to 18 years old that play regional, national or international tennis tournaments without price money). The amateur category is made of “recreationals”, men/women of all ages that play for pleasure/fun, eventually competing in local/club tournaments or leagues. (see page 11 for User


Wilson is a technical and an advanced brand offering athletes the highest quality and innovation. This is the reason why mostly competitive athletes that want to achieve their best performance would buy such a technical and expensive racket, while people that don’t play often and don’t compete in tournaments would chose a cheaper racket (for prices see Appendix 2).

Endorsement of professional players plays a huge role in the communication strategy of the brand.

5 For top professional athletes, Wilson offers sponsorships/ contracts. They are a big source of advertisement for the brand.


At the moment, Wilson is on a period of healthy grow. Not only it is selling regularly, but the brand is also connected with major tennis tournaments. In fact, Wilson is the official provider of balls for the Australian Open and US Open major championships, so its name is constantly seen on sport TV channels such as ESPN, during two of the four biggest slams (2 weeks in January for the

Australian Open and 2 weeks in September during the US Open).

a) Competitor’s analysis

Wilson’s competitors are , Dunlop, Babolat and Head, four giants in tennis. For this project, I will analyze Babolat, as its international competitor.


Babolat is a French tennis, , and squash equipment company, best known for its strings and tennis racquets, which are used by several top players (, Jo-Wilfried

Tsonga, and former players Na Li, and ). Founded in Lyon, France

1875, Babolat invented racket strings and is the oldest company specializing in racket sports (for selection of tennis rackets see Appendix 2.1). Their positioning is their point of difference: rebellious, fun, young, which makes a clear idea of the brand, promoted by the Spanish Rafael

Nadal. The point of difference of this European brand is that the style is more related to clay tennis players (the racket qualities underline spin and control, two main key characteristics for clay tennis players).

Babolat’s strength is that it is introducing a digital experience called Babolat Play. The Babolat

App (available in 6 languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German and Japanese) allows

6 athletes to track statistics, analyze aspects of their game such as power, endurance and technique, measure the speed and directions of the shots. (See Appendix 2.2) The results are shareable on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Inside the USA, Head or Dunlop can represent a bigger threat for Wilson, but globally, Babolat is Wilson’s biggest competitor.


The company's unwavering commitment to innovation pushes its sports into new territories, including digitally connected, socially sharable, and highly customizable products. “This dedication and focus is woven throughout the Wilson global culture, which thrives on collaboration, experimentation, passion, teamwork, persistence, ingenuity and positivity.” (Wilson.com)

Therefore, the main values that Wilson wants to convey are: innovation, teamwork and globalization.

One of Wilson’s strengths is the effectiveness of its global campaigns, which can be found on their website, and in social media. For the introduction of the BURN® FST (Fast Speed

Technology) performance tennis racket (and KAOS™ tennis ), Wilson has specifically designed "Generation Fast”, a group of modern, speed-hungry, aggressive, big hitting tennis players who play mostly from the baseline. The campaign is called Generation Fast (#Genfast) and it is very global and young, showing passion, persistence and positivity featuring 4 top young athletes from Boca Raton- USA, Munich- Germany, Paris- France, and Seoul- Korea. With this campaign,

Wilson shows that they are a fast changing, innovative company, ready to adapt to new generations and to fully understand the ways in which tennis is changing, involving more speed, more power and more control at the same time. The description of the campaign is: 4 players, 3 continents, 1 ” to be the best in the world (generation fast shows tennis in a whole new speed). (See

Appendix 3.1)

7 Similarly, the #MyWilson campaign from 2015 is a 360-degree marketing effort, with a heavy emphasis on social and digital media. At the heart of the campaign is a video, called Nothing

Without It, that features amateur athletes alongside some of the world's best professional athletes recounting the ups and downs of their journeys. By featuring professional tennis players, and regular athletes from all over the world, the campaign is extremely real, global and it shows the different target audiences for Wilson.

For the #MyWilson campaign, Wilson asked people from all over the world to tell what the sport equipment means to them, show a video of using their equipment in their sport, post the clip to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and tag it #MYWILSON. The result was a brilliant video (See

Appendix 3.2), designed to cast the spotlight on the powerful relationship that exists between athletes and their equipment and the journeys and stories they create together. “Wilson architected the campaign to create a conversation amongst youth athletes – across a wide range of sports – and celebrate the role their equipment plays in their lives as they pursue their personal ambitions in the sport they love to play.” (PR NewsWire, 2015)



For years, Wilson is partnering with the Australian Open, one of the four slams and one of the biggest world tennis tournaments. Both Wilson and the Australian Open have a long history and a shared passion for growing the sport of tennis. Wilson has a deep commitment to supporting tennis at all levels in Australia. The partnership is successful because Wilson and the Australian Open are both pushing the limits of performance and innovation to enhance athlete performance at every level. (see Appendix 4.1) “Wilson invites patrons of the Australian Open to visit the Wilson booth located on Grand Slam Oval. In 2016, Patrons will be able to capture active footage of their

Australian Open experience with Wilson product in hand” (AusOpen.com). Wilson is also the

8 official provider and sponsor for the US Open, the biggest tennis tournament in the States.

Visibility opportunities for sponsors are high in a number of sporting events because of the duration of each event (most of the slams last for 2 weeks).

Wilson Sporting Goods Co. is the official tennis racquet, , and string accessory company of the ITA (Intercollegiate Tennis Association). It offers free promotional racquet frames to all ITA member teams with purchase of Wilson merchandise from authorized dealers. (see

Appendix 4.2)

Wilson is also organizing tennis camps for all levels of young players. The Wilson Collegiate

Tennis Camps features the widest variety of camp programs in the nation. Their slogan is: “The camp where young players fulfill their potential.” (Wilson.com). Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps are the premier camps for young players (ages 8-18) who strive to participate in middle school, high school, USTA team tennis, or who are preparing to compete in USTA leagues and/or tournaments.

There are 27 camps nationwide. (see Appendix 4.3).

Main communication needs

Wilson has enormous brand equity and continues to grow. In order to maintain its privileged position in the market, the brand needs to continue to maintain innovation and precision within its product in order to continuing building strong and long-lasting relationships with the tennis players all over the world. Wilson has many internal opportunities to leverage in its communications and it could also benefit from many external partnerships that would further differentiate the brand from its competitors. The brand needs effective global ads and campaigns, as well as testimonials, in order to attract athletes from all over the world.

Conclusion/ Summary of context analysis

Wilson is a historical tennis brand, which puts lots of emphasis on innovation in order to help athletes everywhere to reach their true potential. The target audience can be broken in different 9 segments, from professional tennis players (whom Wilson provides sponsorships and they are used to attract other segments), to Junior tennis players (the younger generation, who are closely connected with the social media behind the brand) to recreational players, who bring the main profit to the company. Different kinds of rackets are provided based on the tennis level of the tennis players.


Corporate Objectives

Wilson does not have its corporate objectives listed on their website, however it expresses that its goal is to help athletes everywhere reach their true potential (Wilson.com).

Communication Objectives

- Promote the material globally

- Inform about new products

- Engage customers through branded experiences and social media

- Inform about the new technology/innovation behind the rackets

- Reinforce the experience behind

- Build images to differentiate the rackets (DRIP)


Potential Target Audiences and User Profile

Tennis is a universal sport, present in all continents, and especially popular in Europe and

America, so Wilson’s communication goal is to spread the message about the brand al around the world. The main goal for their campaigns and ads is that they need to reach local and global

10 audiences. The Wilson Player ID system in the website allows tennis players to easily identify the appropriate Wilson racket model based on their individual style of play. (see Appendix 2)

The target audience for Wilson tennis is composed of athletes of both genders, different races and nationalities. Tennis is an elite sport, and since the brand is very technical, it is mainly targeting the middle/higher class. It is providing material for people that want to reach their true potential, so the main audience is composed by competitive athletes, young professionals, college student-athletes, and tennis players that want to reach their best level of tennis.

The influencers and opinion leaders are the professional tennis players, especially the superstars such as Serena Williams and Roger Federer. Wlson has a professional tennis player from each continent, who serves them as endorsement for local ads. For instance, Kei Nishikori is the testimonial for Japan. (See Appendix 5.3)


Based on the customer context described in the context analysis (page 5), I will describe 4 existing user profiles of Wilson customers.

a. Conny is a Swiss professional tennis player ranked #400 WTA. She has a sponsorship with

Wilson, who provides her tennis equipment (5 rackets, strings, two bags per year). Every

week, she travels to a different WTA tournament around the world, promoting the brand,

and dreaming of becoming a top 100 WTA tennis player. She regularly Tweets and posts

Facebook posts of her results.

b. Christian is a 13 years old French tennis player. His favorite sports are soccer and tennis. He

goes to a private high school and practices tennis 5 times per week. After high school. He

wants to play for the college tennis team at Duke University, and eventually go pro after

college. He uses social media on the daily basis and watches tennis tournament on TV.

11 c. Mark is a 48 years old American dad. He is an accounter and tennis is his favorite hobby. He

plays tennis three times per week in the evening (right after work) with his buddies in the

local tennis club in his home town. On weekends, he competes in a club league against other

4.0 American tennis players.

d. Marina is an Italian 54 years old woman. She is a retired business-woman, with 3 children.

She loves exercising: she does yoga, running, gym and tennis on the daily basis during the

week. Her main goal is to live healthy and stay in shape, she also follows and the

latest trends.

Marketing Communication Strategy

There are three general marketing communication strategies known as the 3P’s. The 3P’s stand for pull-positioning, push-positioning and profile-positioning. All three strategies are designed to position a company or brand in a certain way in the minds of consumers. Wilson uses a combination of push and pull-positioning strategies in their marketing communications. They combine both messages to new consumers as well as messages to retain current ones within the three tools I analyzed. Also, Wilson does a good job in managing the three P: product, place and price.

Product: Wilson manufactures rackets to meet the needs of tennis players with varying skill levels. Beginner rackets are made with cheaper materials, while rackets designed for advanced players feature Wilson’s “nCode molecular technology frame construction.”

Place: Wilson has a number of distribution channels making its tennis rackets product line widely available and esily accessible to consumers (ex sporting good stores such as Dick’s Sporting

Goods, Big 5 Spoting Goods, etc) and discount stores (Target, Wal-mart, Fred Meyer, etc.)

12 Price: Price levels for Wilson’s rackets vary depending on quality and target consumer.

Beginning rackets sell for as little as $20, while some of the upper level racquets command price of nearly $300.

Message and Creative

The overall message globally conveyed by Wilson emphasizes the innovation, global appeal and high quality of the tennis rackets, as a premium product for tennis players that want to achieve their best level based on player characteristics. Overall the communication messaging and creative were quite unified throughout the digital presence, point-of-purchase marketing and the sponsorships which provides advertising itself.

Product Placement:

Wilson was extremely popular in the 1990 and even more in the 2000, when it was positioned in the 2000 Hollywood film Cast Away. In the movie, the brand itself became the best friend of the main character played by Tom Hanks- a businessman stranded on a desert island following a plane crash. Hanks's character finds a box in the wreckage containing a Wilson volleyball ball and, during his years of isolation on the island, the ball becomes his sounding companion. He calls his friend Wilson. (See Appendix 6) This is not related for the tennis section of the brand, but it happened to be a very effective and memorable product placement for the brand itself.

Communications Mix

“Successful marketing communications involves managing various elements according to the need of the target audience and the goals the campaign seeks to achieve.” (Fill) Wilson’s three main communication tools are point-of-purchase marketing, sponsorships and social media.

13 Point-of-purchase marketing:

The point-of purchase marketing is the marking done in the any store where Wilson can be found, but especially retail stores and stands at tournaments/tennis events. This communication tool is targeting mainly the tennis fans/recreationals, who are people that play tennis for fun (they might be active in leagues and local tournaments) or just take tennis lessons, but they defnitely like to watch tennis. In retail stores, sales people can inform the customers about the different rackets. At the speciif stands, there would be tennis specialists informing the customers about the Wilson rackets. (See Appendix 5.1)


Tennis customers are very attracted by professional tennis players using the racket. Wilson has a strong history in tennis rackets; the original kevlar Pro Staff model racket was used by Pete

Sampras. Roger Federer also used the same racket model. Jim Courier and Stefan Edberg also used the Pro Staff Original. As a result, one of the strategies Wilson employed over the years to increase sales and enhance its product image was to pursue the endorsement of professional athletes. (see

Appendix 5.2) Currently, there are 12 professional tennis players in the top 20 (men and women

ATP/WTA ranking) that use Wilson and are testimonials of the brand: Roger Federer, Grigor

Dimitrov, Feliciano, Lopez, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Serena Williams, Venus Williams,

Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Madison Keys and Andrea Petkovic, representing

10 different countries in 3 different continents. They appear not only on TV, but also in magazine ads, Youtube videos that are posted on social media.

Social Media:

Finally, the social media is also an effective communication tool used by Wilson to connect with the younger generation, the junior tennis players (competitors from 10 to 18 years old). The social media strategy truly reflects that the brand knows its customer and creates content relevant to

14 them and age-appropriate. In the bottom of the website there are the social media platforms available for the customers: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. In the majority social media posts, there would be a tennis celebrity involved. (see Appendix 5.3)


One of the most successful global campaign for Wilson was the #MyWilson campaign. This campaign was developed in partnership with Phenomenon, an integrated marketing agency based in

Los Angeles, CA.

Scheduling and Implementation

The media plan is well composed and responds to the communication needs of both the target audiences. The brand does a great job in informing the players about the different kind of rackets. In the tennis section of the Wilson website, in fact, the viewer has the option of choosing his/her own racket based on his/her level. There are the baseliner rackets (with a description and the price), the attacker rackets, the all courter rackets, the recreational rackets and the junior rackets.

(see Appendix 1). The-commerce site is up and running 24/7 and the in-store merchandising is on place whenever the stores are open.

The scheduling of the media plan shows message variety to generate interest for every communication. However, there is a problem with the direct mail page. I signed up twice to receive exclusive sales and news, but in 4 weeks I haven’t receive any email. I saw that Wilson has a blogger (wilsontennis.wordpress.com) that promotes Wilson events and tournaments. However, I suggest Wilson to find a professional tennis player who would himself/herself write a personal blog, which would reinforce even more the relationship between the brand and the customers.

In the case of social media, the average of Facebook posts is one per day (see Appendix

7.1). For the past two months, almost every day there is a Facebook post about Generation Fast, which is targeting thee junior players (age 12-18). 15 Wilson has various Twitter accounts, and 4 specific for tennis: Wilson Tennis, Wilson

Tennis UK, Wilson Tennis Camps and Wilson Tennis NZ. The main account (Wilson Tennis) is very active, and centered around he Generation Fast campaign. (see Appendix 7.2) In average there

5 tweets per day.

Wilson made a smart choice in adding Snapchat to its social media marketing strategy in connection to Generation Fast. The four junior representatives are the ones that manage the profile, so each of them would take Snapchats of Wilson tennis events around the world, spreading quick pictures of tennis events, tournaments, practices. I found it a very smart way to connect with the younger generation and keep the global audience updated with current tennis events. (see Appendix



A potential issue is the maturation of the brand. Wilson is over a 100-years old brand, with lots of history and success. This might be a strength because of consumer loyalty, but at the same time a threat as well, because there are some new more technological brands expanding globally very rapidly (ex. Babolat). Tennis nowadays is changing rapidly; the power tennis is replacing the old-style traditional tennis. If Wilson puts more emphasis on tradition instead of innovation, it risks to be replaced by other newer brands. Another potential issue is that the main athletes connected with Wilson (Williams and Federer) are at the end of their careers. They are two of the greatest tennis players of all times, very iconic and followed. The issue might be finding other equally strong testimonials in the future.

Evaluation and Control

Each communication channel, although unique, is very well coordinated and comprehensive. The social media is frequently updated and heavily related with the new

Generation Fast campaign, which is closely connected to the positioning of the brand.

16 Feedback

Social media provides a great measure of feedback as well as measurement. There is one comprehensive social media analytic website (Website Grader) to assist Wilson with this project.

Wilson already has a fantastic feedback technique mastered.

Conclusion and Summary

After analyzing the brand and its marketing communications I feel amazed by the marketing success of Wilson. Not only it is over a 100 years old, but the positioning basd on helping athletes reach their true potential through technology and innovation with the help of amazing testimonials is a great strategy. The brand is able to target effectively all the marketing segments and connect with them through different communication tools, with a significant emphasis on social media, especially in the past two years. The social media is extremely well managed and intagrated, showing great consistency (strong logo in each plattform) and emhpasis on the newst Generation fast campaign, a genius move from the tennis perspective. A key aspect for Wilson is to be able to maintain its premium pricing strategy, supported in a thorough, integrated and overall effective marketing communications plan.


Fill, C. (2009). Marketing communications; interactivity, communities and content. (6th ed., pp.

144, 402, 613). Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited.

PRNewswire (2015). Wilson Sporting Goods Launches New Brand Campaign. Retrieved from: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wilson-sporting-goods-launches-new-brand-campaign-


AusOpen.com (2016). Retrieved from http://event.ausopen.com/event- guide/partners/wilson#sthash.tWHRtPQ0.dpuf

Wilson. (2015). About Wilson. Retrieved on March 8, 2016 from http://www.wilson.com/en- us/about/

Wilson. (2015). Summer Camps. Retrieved on March 8, 2016 from http://www.wilsontenniscamps.com/summer-camps/


APPENDIX 1: The rackets

The current racket categorization that Wilson uses is mostly marketing strategy, as well as a change in the way the rackets are made and designed. Wilson is trying to make the process more qualitative and personal, associated to playing style and preferences, and less data-centered/numeric, which can be really confusing sometimes and it might intimidate less experienced buyers. The frames are really similar, and most of the times, in order to decide which one is the right for you, the only way is to playtesting them.




2.1. The rackets 2.2 Babolat Play App

APPENDIX 3: Global Campaigns


21 3.2 #MYWILSON



4.1. Wilson partnership with the Australian Open

22 Wilson is proud to be recognized as an Official Sponsor of Tennis Australia and the Australian Open – The Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific Region.

4.2. Wilson partnership with ITA

4.3. The Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps

23 APPENDIX 5: Marketing Communication Tools

5.1. Point-of-purchase marketing

5.2 Sponsorships

Sponsorship with Serena Williams

24 5.3

Sponsorship with Kei Nishikori

5.4 Social media (with celebrity endorsement)

25 APPENDIX 6: Communication Mix (product placement)

APPENDIX 7: Scheduling and Implementation

7.1. Facebook

26 7.2 Twitter

7.3 Snapchat

27 Appendix 8: Effectiveness of communication tools

8.1 Website grader

The Website Grader is analyzing four factors: performance, mobile, SEO and security. The performance (page size, page requests, page speed) of Wilson.com is 17/30, showing how the brand has lots of potential in it. The Mobile analysis for Wilson.com is excellent, 30/30, showing how

Wilson is very innovational, and ready for the future. The viewports are, in fact, extremely accurate.

The SEO analyzses that the website is easy for users to discover and to understand, in terms of page titles, headings, and meta descriptions. Wilson has 25/30, with a defficiency in meta description.

Finally, Website grader is showing that the Wilson webpage is very safe, scoring 10/10 in security.

8.2 Social mention

When I typed Generation Fast (Wilson) into socialmention.com I found out the following results. In terms of strength, Wilson Sporting Goods has a 8%, which is pretty low. Strength is the likelihood that the brand s discussed in social media. Sentiment is the ratio of mentioned that are generally

28 positive to the ones that are negatives (3:1 in the Wilson’s case). Reach is the measure of the range of influence, and the 4% result is showing that Wilson doesn’t do a great job. Passion is the measure of the likelihood that individuals talking about your brand will do so repeatedly.

Generation fast has the higher percentage in this area, showing how customers are usually loyal to the brand once they connect with it.