In Sport, Sport Sponsorship, Sports Marketing

The 2020 Nitto ATP Finals, the event that concludes the tennis season and celebrates the 8 strongest players in the world, have just started in London. It seems like yesterday but it has already been 1 year since I was enjoying the show with thousands of people cheering, screaming and supporting their idols in the O2 Arena.

This year last London edition of the Finals, which will land in Turin from 2021, has a different flavor; no audience, ghostly silence, you can just hear the sound of the ball slapped by the rackets and the almost held screams of the players. The event was inaugurated yesterday by the ATP Chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, with a special ceremony; Novak Djokovic has been awarded the trophy that consecrates him as the No. 1 tennis player in the world ranking of the Fedex ATP circuit. Yet another record for the Serbian who receives this award for the sixth time in 10 years, equaling his great idol Pete Sampras.

Not an ordinary sportsman

Nole lifts the trophy and poses for the photos and the first thing you can notice are the six golden crocodiles on the chest of his sweatshirt. The sponsor Lacoste rightly wanted to celebrate the great milestone achieved by its testimonial by customizing his gear for the occasion. In the sporting panorama Djokovic is certainly one of the athletes that many companies would like to support and use for marketing and communication activities.

The Serbian tennis player is undoubtedly a different character from all the other players; sometimes he’s been criticized and not completely understood but his sporting and commercial value have no equal. Let’s say that perhaps he found himself playing and winning in a period of time dominated by two untouchable and unreachable giants like Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, creating for the first time a heated and intense rivalry that has lasted for more than a decade: 56 matches played against Nadal (29-27 for Nole) and 50 to Federer (27-23 in favor of Nole).

Coming from an area of ​​Europe that has been heavily troubled by war and conflicts and bringing into the court precisely those tough and sharp characteristics of its people, the Serbian represented a real break-through in the world of tennis. It is certainly this tenacious and determined character that helped him achieving the goals he has achieved and fighting every day to improve and break new records.

The player with the highest prize pool ever

Djokovic’s career is in fact marked by great goals and incredible results on all surfaces making him, together with his two rivals, one of the strongest players in history. Number 1 in the world for six times, 17 Grand Slams won (8 Australian Open, 5 Wimbledon, 3 US Open and 1 Roland Garros), he is the only player in history to have won nine Masters 1000 tournaments at least once in his career. Bronze medalist at the Olympics in Beijing 2008 he is the tennis player who has earned the highest prize money in his career with over 140M $.

In addition to the income from tournament prize, Djokovic has always had a highly respected list of partners at his side that have supported him throughout his career. Some international brands have been following the tennis player for some time, such as Peugeot, Seiko, Head, Asics and Lacoste for technical clothing.

Lacoste: the cool sportwear brand that Djokovic was looking for

Before being supported by Lacoste that is using his image extensively in the relaunch of the famous crocodile since 2017, Nole began his career under the wing of Adidas, then going through a ten-year contract with the Italian brand Sergio Tacchini to finally land at the Japanese giant Uniqlo for which he represented the world global ambassador for 5 years. But it is with Lacoste that Nole seems to have found the partner he has been looking for so long. The company is using and promoting his image as the true and only “superstar” in the house, even producing a collection under his name; it is said that the French giant earns about $ 10M a year.

 Some of the qualities of the Serbian tennis player, such as the attention to detail and the search for perfection, are also reflected in the choice of partners. Those who follow his social media or have had the opportunity to listen to some interviews of the tennis player will certainly have guessed that there is a meticulous attention dedicated to nutrition, meditation, body care and training.

Djokovic seeks for the same attention and perfection in his commercial partners, as it is with Asics for example, a company with which Nole has studied, improved and adapted his tennis shoes in every detail to make it the “perfect” trainers for his style of play. We can therefore say that if the tennis player has chosen and continues to use Head rackets since 2001, he is probably satisfied with the quality of the equipment as well as with the contract.

A testimonial who must believe and be in line with his partners

It may seems obvious, but when companies want to invest in a sports testimonial, as in this case, they must be sure that the two parts are perfectly aligned. It often happens that agreements based solely on remuneration can work for a while but if the testimonial does not truly believe or does not feel in line with the product or with the vision of the sponsor, these contracts are almost always short-lived.

When a company is looking for a testimonial to represent its image, it must select someone who embodies its values, objectives and vision; partnerships must be authentic and credible to work, the testimonial must see himself in the company and in the product he represents, he must be sure that he/she would have used that product regardless of contact involved. With Djokovic there is certainly no doubt about that, the Serbian champion knows what he wants.

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Silvia Schweiger
Silvia Schweiger
Associate Director, Executive Marketing and Commercial at RTR Sports Marketing, a London-based sports marketing company specializing in motorsport for over 25 years.
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