Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mercedes-Benz and ATP partnership to end after 2008

Mercedes-Benz will be ending their sponsorship of the men's ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tennis tour at the conclusion of their current three year contract, which is set to expire at the end of 2008.

Mercedes has been a sponsor of the tour since 1996. Against the background of a revised brand positioning concept and changes in communication structures, the focus in the sponsoring activities of Mercedes are changing as well. Mercedes plans on shifting its sponsoring emphasis to activities such as golf, equestrianism and soccer as well as fashion and lifestyle. We have already seen evidence of this with Mercedes sponsoring the 2007 Presidents Cup, held this weekend in Montreal.

The 12 year partnership between Mercedes and ATP has been a fruitful one, with the luxury brand present at over 40 tournaments per year. To date, more than 35 million tennis fans came into contact with Mercedes-Benz during the sponsorship, while over a billion people (accumulated) watched ATP tournaments on television.

I wonder who the new sponsor will be in 2009, for either the ATP Tour or the men's tennis tournament in Toronto? I am hopeful that with the changes coming to the ATP Tour in 2009, including new tournaments (combined events), mandatory player participation (i.e. suspensions for missed mandatory events) and record prize money, the ATP will have no problems attracting a new vehicle sponsor.

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