The Champsionships, held at London’s Roehampton Club, has a “now vs. next” theme, pitting promising talent against established tennis professionals. In previous years it’s seen the likes of Boris Becker and Andy Murray compete on the way to becoming global stars, but for years the competition was dormant, until Gant came along…
caytoo: What is Gant’s overall approach to sports sponsorship? Why use sports as a vehicle?
Fergus: Firstly, we’re not a sports athletic brand. We’re not Nike, Adidas, Puma. Those guys own the court, the golf course, the football pitch etc. Instead, we would like to own the locker room and the clubhouse after the golf. For us, it’s when you’ve taken off your performance wear and you want to put something on that’s casual, we want to be the brand of choice for those people. People who are into sport and curious professionals are definitely amongst our target audience.
caytoo: Are there any key lessons from your experience for other brands working with rights holders on something like this?
Fergus: The only thing is I underestimated how long it would take for us to get everything into place agreement-wise between us, Roehampton and Octagon. So the lead time was much greater than I thought it was, therefore, we probably didn’t start early enough. If you’re going to do an event, you need to think about it way in advance of when you think you might need to.
I don’t come from a background of having to do these types of corporate things. I was amazed at how much detail between our legal team and their legal team. You know what you can do, what you can’t do, which images you can use. Just give yourself plenty of time. My team have done an incredible job making this happen. We only had five months in the end to work on this and it wasn’t enough. We needed twelve and obviously, if you have a curtailed period of organisation, then that does stand in the way a little bit of being able to bring in external sponsors who might be part of the event because they’ve already committed their budgets. Give yourself time.