The French Open, which took place at Roland Garros in Paris between May 22 and June 1, was the perfect opportunity for brands to create media impressions. The tournament’s official sponsors included Longines and Lacoste, both of which strove to align their products with the audience of the French Open as well as the overall culture of professional tennis—one that evokes a preppy, upscale, luxurious, and timeless spirit. Through event focused sponsorships, and specifically through Roland Garros, brands are not only able to reach a large audience of potential customers, but create a brand identity associated with the culture of tennis.
Traditional sponsorship placement involves brand placement on the tennis courts, billboards, and other physical parts of the tournament. In addition, video advertisements may run during the event on score boards as well as through television broadcast of the matches. Both Lacoste and Longines have advertised through these channels frequently. For instance, as the official time keeper of the tournament since 2007, Longines has taken on two celebrity tennis players as its brand ambassadors—Stefanie Graf and Andre Argassi—who appear in its television ads and print campaigns frequently.
Other more “traditional” event sponsorships have included brands creating special collections. For example, Lacoste has created Roland Garros merchandise through a co-branded collection including polos and sweaters featuring tennis player designs; this merchandise is sold inside the Roland Garros arena throughout the event to increase sales. Longines implemented a similar strategy, creating an exclusive edition watch—the “Conquest 1/100th Roland Garros”— originally launched in 2015.
While traditional advertising has been largely successful for Roland Garros sponsors, companies are beginning to realize that they can tap into larger markets by integrating social media campaigns into their sponsorships. Influencer marketing is integral to this process.
Pulse recently created a social media campaign for Longines with Roland Garros using influencers like Leonie Hanne of @ohhcouture with 1.2 million followers, Daniel of @magic_fox with 1.2 million followers, and Andrea Denver of @andreadenver3 with 1.1 million followers. By each influencer featuring the Longines time pieces at Roland Garros and documenting their experiences there through Instagram posts and stories, an unprecedented amount of people were reached and introduced to the brand through a fresh and exciting lens. With leveraging Longines’ official hashtag #eleganceisanattitude, there was a consistent theme tied to the influencer posts, creating ultimate brand awareness and provoking positive reactions from followers.
The take-away? Campaigns do not need to be entirely social media based nor entirely executed through traditional media. Instead, advertising strategy can be cohesive across influencers, brand ambassadors, print, and television. Through creating a hybrid between influencer marketing and more traditional advertising, brands can maximize their impressions and ROI across channels. A campaign strategy that is centered on a large-scale event such as the French Open allows brands to seamlessly combine traditional sponsorship with influencer marketing, reaching potential customer bases that were previously untapped.
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