Wim­ble­don slams re­ces­sion Eco­nomic down­turn not slow­ing turnout

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - BY SHEL­LEY EMLING

LON­DON | Wim­ble­don has shot a ma­jor fore­hand whack at eco­nomic naysay­ers by charg­ing 20 per­cent more for Cen­tre Court deben­tures — and then sell­ing ev­ery last one of them with no prob­lem.

All 2,500 deben­tures — which gives the buyer a re­served seat on Cen­tre Court ev­ery day of the event for the next five years — were snapped up for $43,830 each — or $7,266 more than those re­leased for the pre­vi­ous five-year cy­cle.

Mar­ket­ing ex­perts say it’s just one sign that the premier ten­nis tour­na­ment put on by the All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis and Croquet Club — which started June 22 — ap­pears to be un­af­fected by the re­ces­sion that has taken a bite out of other sport­ing events.

“Wim­ble­don is a bit like the NFL in that the NFL only plays a lim­ited num­ber of games so that the fans are al­ways left want­ing more,” said Nick Massey, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at Cado­gan Man­age­ment, a strat­egy con­sult­ing firm in Lon­don. “Wim­ble­don is only two weeks long as well as be­ing an ab­so­lutely unique event, and so the re­ces­sion isn’t likely to af­fect it in terms of rev­enue.”

Massey pointed out that Wim­ble­don is an in­te­gral part of a Bri­tish sum­mer so­cial sea­son dat­ing back to the 1830s — sim­ply re- ferred to here as “The Sea­son” — that in­cludes the Chelsea Flower Show, Royal As­cot horse races and the Glyn­de­bourne Fes­ti­val Opera.

Those who pur­chase tick­ets to such events are ex­tremely wealthy con­sumers not likely to be af­fected much by the re­ces­sion.

“From a cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity and spon­sor­ship stand­point, Wim­ble­don is one of the events that CEOs and chair­men take their wives to, and they’ve been do­ing so for many, many years, and they aren’t about to cut it out now,” Massey said.

Massey said there’s also a cer- tain aura sur­round­ing Wim­ble­don that’s sim­ply not found at other ten­nis tour­na­ments.

For ex­am­ple, while the other Grand Slam events boast heavy­duty ad­ver­tis­ing around their main courts, Wim­ble­don has gen­er­ally taken a more sub­tle ap­proach with ads pur­posely kept to a min­i­mum.

Allyson Ste­wart-Allen, who runs In­ter­na­tional Mar­ket­ing Part­ners, a cross-cul­tural con­sult­ing firm in Lon­don, agreed that Wim­ble­don is a spe­cial kind of brand that ap­pears to be re­ces­sion-proof.

“Ten­nis also is a more main- stream sport which is ei­ther played or watched by sig­nif­i­cantly more peo­ple than some­thing like For­mula One racing,” she said. “And Wim­ble­don has cre­ated a brand that is both as­pi­ra­tional and stylish in many parts of the world.”

Mo­tor­sports be­came a vic­tim of the credit crunch late last year when Honda de­cided to pull out of For­mula One.

“The fact that fash­ion de­signer Ralph Lauren — him­self a global brand — even de­signed the Wim­ble­don staff uni­forms a few sea­sons ago tells you that Wim­ble­don is clearly a cov­etable mar­ket­ing plat­form with a broad reach,” Ste­wart-Allen said.

Even as un­em­ploy­ment con­tin­ues to rise in Bri­tain and is ex­pected to peak above 3 mil­lion next year, in­ter­est in the Grand Slam event is ex­pected to be es­pe­cially in­tense this year thanks to a new translu­cent re­tractable roof that guar­an­tees play on Cen­tre Court no mat­ter the weather.

Even tick­ets for ex­hi­bi­tion matches played last month un­der the new roof sold out within five min­utes.

Rain de­lays still could oc­cur at the outer courts, which re­main vul­ner­a­ble to the el­e­ments.

Also boost­ing in­ter­est is a new sunken Court 2 with a ca­pac­ity to seat 4,000 spec­ta­tors.

At the same time, Bri­tish fans are par­tic­u­larly ex­cited this year over the prospects of Andy Mur­ray, the 22-year-old Scot tipped to be­come the first Bri­ton to win the men’s sin­gles at Wim­ble­don since Fred Perry in 1936.

As al­ways, de­mand for daily Wim­ble­don tick­ets con­tin­ues to sur­pass sup­ply with lines ex­pected to form overnight each day dur­ing the two-week event that ends July 5.

The good news for those who get in is that Wim­ble­don ex­ec­u­tives have opted to keep the price of a pun­net of 10 straw­ber­ries, one of the spec­ta­tors’ most pop­u­lar snacks, at 2.25 pounds — about $3.72 — or the same as last sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.