Brand Strategy

How Wimbledon is giving fans around the world a taste of London-style tennis

Experiential marketing is part of the organization’s plan to grow its audience and deepen engagement, according to Marketing and Commercial Director Usama Al-Qassab.
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AELTC

4 min read

Wimbledon is widely considered to be the most iconic tennis tournament in the world, and while the competition is pretty easy to watch on TV, not nearly as many people get to attend in person.

So Wimbledon and the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the private members’ club that hosts and operates the Championships, are bringing a little bit of London to tennis fans around the world.

The tournament, which is approaching its 150th anniversary in 2027, has been coming to life via experiential marketing in major cities including Tokyo, Mumbai, and New York. This month, that effort is manifesting in “The Hill in New York,” a re-creation of the experience of watching Wimbledon on Henman Hill (aka Murray Mound) for fans on this side of the pond.

The event is in its third year, now in a new location in Brooklyn Bridge Park that doubles its previous capacity, Usama Al-Qassab, Wimbledon’s marketing and commercial director, told Marketing Brew. Olivier Award winner and former member of the Pussycat Dolls Nicole Scherzinger and singer songwriter AJ Mitchell are performing a concert for attendees on July 12, followed by live screenings of the men’s and women’s singles finals on July 13 and 14.

Almost 650 million people engage with the brand in some way every year, while only about half a million a year enter the grounds, according to Al-Qassab. That’s why the event in Brooklyn is meant to evoke the Wimbledon ambiance beyond the screen: It takes place on grass, picnicking with drinks like glasses of champagne or Pimm’s Cups is encouraged, hosts are trained to be hyper-courteous, and even the flowers match the flora and fauna of Wimbledon.

“When people talk about Wimbledon, they immediately think of the green grass,” Al-Qassab said. “They think about the players wearing their all-white uniforms, strawberries and cream, ‘quiet, please,’ and tennis in an English garden…Our challenge isn’t really around awareness. It’s about having a depth of engagement, and it’s about broadening our audience. Tennis isn’t the largest sport in the world.”

American boy

The US is a major sports market, and Wimbledon partners with big brands like Ralph Lauren, American Express, IBM, and AB InBev, which have offices in New York. The Hill in New York gives brands like those a chance to activate experientially on their home turf, Al-Qassab said.

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American Express is providing photo opportunities with “picnic spot styling,” racquet brand Babolat is offering tennis lessons, Pimm’s and Evian are contributing drinks, and Polo Ralph Lauren is outfitting the event’s hosts and brand ambassadors, he said.

“There’s lots that we can do with our partners, but most importantly, it’s [about] the big screen and what the guests actually will get from being in an environment that’s a little bit like the Wimbledon hill that we have here,” Al-Qassab said.

To further promote the tournament, Wimbledon has been running a traditional ad campaign called “Always Like Never Before” with its broadcast partners that’s meant to emphasize both the heritage and the future of the Championships.

Seize the moment

Sports are never really off in the US, but Wimbledon comes at a particularly good time in the calendar, when the NFL and NBA are both in their offseasons. Through a partnership with Disney, the tournament will air on ESPN and ABC, which helps with the organization’s goal of deepening engagement and expanding its audience, Al-Qassab said.

“The more that we do in the US, the more that we can reinvest in the US and elsewhere,” he said. “That means that we can start to engage new and different audiences more often throughout the year.”

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