Wimbledon, it’s a whole different ball game

“They act like they’ve got the biggest tournament in the world, and they’re right, they do.”
– Pete Sampras –

A new edition of Wimbledon has begun, with fresh grass courts, no overexposure of sponsors, long queues and a lot of white. It is obvious – Wimbledon is nothing like its Grand Slam counterparts.

Traditions, rules and more traditions

The tournament is surrounded by traditions. To start of there are the rules concerning clothing. Players are only allowed to wear white clothing or clothing which is practically completely white. However, each year boundaries are tested as players wear clothing that is a shade or inch away from breaking the rules. Although the clothing has to pass (multiple) inspection(s), at times solid colors seem to find their way onto the holy grass. For example Sharapova wore orange tights under her skirt at this years’s Championship.

No holy grass on holy Sunday

Another tradition is that the tournament starts on Monday. Despite the possibility of higher broadcast income when playing on Sunday, Wimbledon has kept the tradition to start on Monday. This tradition came about by the organization not wanting to be inconsiderate to religious neighbors by playing on Sunday.
Wimbledon also refrains from scheduling matches on ‘Middle Sunday’. Normally used as a rest day, matches are only scheduled on this day when weather conditions hinder play during the first week of the Championship. When matches are played on ‘Middle Sunday’ it turns into ‘People’s Sunday’, where tickets are sold for affordable prices and reservations are not required. With everyone having a chance at tickets, fan experience during these days is greatly improved.

Not prominent, but strong indeed

While Roland Garros is covered with, maybe too much so, brands and sponsor stands and goodies, The All England Club is characterized by minimal visual branding during Wimbledon. Around the grounds and on the courts subtle marketing is used at appropriate and expected places. For example, Ralph Lauren can be found on the uniforms of the ball kids and the officials, Slazenger on the balls, is Rolex the official timekeeper and tracks IBM the scores. Although hardly present visually, those of us watching know Wimbledon’s ‘suppliers’. Such brand recognition can only be reached when organization and sponsors have long-term commitments, which is indeed the case.

Generally, it will take time for sponsors to benefit, if ever. It will probably take even longer when it is done in such a subtle manner. Nevertheless, it is far less intrusive than the opening-the-bottle-sound played during every break at Roland Garros, making it a far better brand experience.