Program: Heineken tennis
Marketer: Heineken USA, White Plains, N.Y.
Agencies: Lowe/SMS, N.Y. (ads); Ryan, Westport, Conn.(promotion); Dunwoodie, N.Y. (pr)
Heineken: Steve Davis, vp-mktg; Ken Kunze, brand dir; Scott Hunter Smith, brand mgr; Pepe Carreras, assoc brand mgr; Steve Hauser, field mktg dir;
Lowe: Lee Garfinkle, co-CEO/chief crtv officer; Michael Silver, evp;
Ryan: Mary Perry, up; Rob Gotti, mgng dir;
Dunwoodie: Roy Bumsted, CEO, Lorraine Raguseo, grp up
Back in 1995, Heineken decided to pull its considerable international clout out of golf sponsorships and instead beef up its exposure to tennis. Gone from its promotional calendar were such major golf events as the Heineken Dutch Open, the Australian Open and the World Cup of Golf. Filling the vacuum the next years was an ambitious five-year sponsorship with the U.S. Tennis Association that elevated the Dutch beer brand to the top-tier status of a USTA "Corporate Champion," joining such other megabrands as IBM, Citizen, Nissan Infiniti and Prudential Securities.
Suddenly the red star and green bottle had marshalled a presence at events that include one of the highest-visibility tournaments in the country, the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y. Outsiders pegged the value of the sponsorship at about $30 million over its five-year lifetime.
From the perspective of Heineken USA in White Plains, N.Y. all this was occurring as recreational tennis seemed to continue its long decline in participation, and not long before the bursting on the scene of Tiger Woods energized golf and helped put it on its torrid growth track in participation, awareness and sponsorship dollars. Did Heineken read the market wrong, and bet on the wrong pony?
Its marketers offer a resounding "no," even as they do their post-ups on the company's third year of the company's USTA "megasponsorship," the jewel in the crown, the U.S.