Rogers Cup Secures Record Sponsorships

By Susan O'Neill July 25, 2008, 1:58 PM EDT

The Yoplait booth at the Rogers Cup

Photo: BizBash

Creating new partnerships and retaining sponsors like Rogers Communications—which just announced a three-year extension of its title sponsorship—is important for a sporting event like the Rogers Cup, according to Greg Wood, Tennis Canada's vice president of corporate sponsorships. “The key to our success this year is, number one, keeping our sponsors,” Wood said this week. “We have been growing our sponsorship revenue for a long time. Since 2003 we’ve taken off. We’ve had 150 per cent growth in the last five years.” According to Wood, the Toronto and Montreal tournaments will generate in excess of $17 million in sponsorship revenue this year. This year's Rogers cup wraps up at the Rexall Centre this weekend.

“Our biggest new pick up this year was the Dairy Farmers of Canada. They are a platinum partner at both [men's and women's] events,” Wood said. The organization is also working with Tennis Canada on a grassroots program and national public service campaign called Everyday Champions. “It’s a marketing partnership where we’re promoting the healthy lifestyle of tennis and the health benefits of [dairy products]…there is a print campaign celebrating everyday tennis champions around the country and all of it culminates at the Rogers Cup with the Dairy Farmers of Canada Activity Centre at the event,” he said. The centre includes smash tennis, mini tennis, sampling, and branding.

After a 24-year partnership with Sporting Life, the Rogers Cup has a new official retailer this year. The Merchant of Tennis, which operates two stores in Toronto and Oakville, signed a three-year partnership to be the official retailer and official stringer of the Toronto event, Wood said. The catering company Marigolds and Onions Ltd. is also new to the Rogers Cup this year, after reaching a two-year agreement with Tennis Canada. Marigolds and Onions Ltd., the sole on-site caterer during the tournament, is providing catering services to all executive suites, public concessions and food areas, the Pricewaterhouse Coopers V.I.P. Lounge, and the Rogers Cup Lounge and player restaurant.

Tennis Canada also secured a new partnership with the 407 ETR. The corporation, classed as a silver sponsor and an associate sponsor of family day—the title sponsor of which is State Farm Insurance—is working with Tennis Canada to resurface tennis courts in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood. In return 407 transponder holders are being offered a special discount for the quarterfinals. “They’ve really promoted the event through their database,” Wood said. Other new sponsors in Toronto this year include Iris, which is selling sunglasses on site; L'Oréal Paris, which is handing out samples to spectators on the grounds and providing products for the spa in the players' lounge; California Wines, which branded a V.I.P. patio overlooking the practice courts; and Corona Light, which is sponsoring the Coronaville pub. “It’s a fan enhancement experience and it works beautifully for us,” Wood said of the sponsors' booths.

Wood reported that sponsors have product exclusivity on the grounds. He also noted that a big draw for many sponsors is the fact that the tournament is broadcast in 140 countries and attracts more than 55 million viewers. Emirates Airlines, a two-time sponsor this year, is definitely interested in seeing its brand worldwide, he said. “Our television ratings have done well and our attendance has very consistently gone up,“ Wood said, noting that Tennis Canada expects the combined attendance at the two tournaments to exceed 330,000 spectators this year. “It is the fifth best attended tennis event in the world,” Wood said. “We’re very close to surpassing the French Open.”

The opening of the Rexall Centre in 2003 has also helped to attract sponsors in recent years. “It really wasn’t a world-class event [in the old stadium]. Our sky lounge was on scaffolding, whereas now it really is a world-class event and the stadium is designed to maximize brand exposure. It’s built for television,” Wood said. The Rogers Cup continues until Sunday, and the main draw for the women's tournament in Montreal gets under way Monday.

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