Modern sporting events are product placement and marketing hell. Especially the big ones. Call it Super Bowl Syndrome or the Olympic Effect or whatever you wish, but sports are now big fat advertisements with the occasional sweating from an athlete. Nevertheless, we still tune in for the spectacle, the drama and, let’s be honest, the ads. So when Wimbledon kicked off a few days ago we were curious to see what big brands were going to be lobbing over the net.
Sony’s “Balls” video is far less lurid and more charming than the title would suggest. In fact, the minute and nearly twenty-second ad is a spin-off of Sony’s original 2005 spot — except this time Sony is hawking 3D home technology. So appropriately the tennis balls are bouncing along the streets of San Francisco and into your living room! Sony put big bucks behind this ad and the multimedia campaign that bounces alongside it. It’s one of the first big campaigns of the 3D at-home era and will be remembered long after Wimbledon is over. This ad also marks the beginning of Sony’s 20-year commitment to sponsor the event.
Yet for big-time branding on the tennis court, nobody beats IBM. More than any shoe company or soft drink, Wimbledon belongs to IBM. The tech giant not only powers and sponsors the event’s site, but it also supplies the fancy gadgets to capture all of the court side happenings, statisticians to record the numbers and a “Green Data Center” which serves as environmentally friendly hub for all things Wimbledon. And no sporting event would be complete without an app, so naturally IBM has whipped up a Wimbledon app which spits out all of the numbers, stories and victories right onto your smartphone.
Wimbledon has always been an ace for advertisers. Now, thanks to digital branding, everyone can get a piece of the action.