Melbourne Window to Asia-wide Market

By Aaron Langmaid | Sunday Herald Sun | January 13, 2013

Roger Federer at Crown. Picture: Julie Kiriacoudis,  Source: Herald Sun

MELBOURNE is a million-dollar playground for the world’s biggest tennis stars.

From fashion lines to confectionary, and everything in-between, the first grand slam of the year is big business for players on and off the court.

With thousands of tennis enthusiasts set to flood Melbourne Park for the first day of competition tomorrow, fans have already caught a glimpse of the top seeds at spectacular product launches where no expense is spared.

But experts say it’s not just about the money – players are also marketing themselves to the Australian public.

Player manager Max Eisenbud, who represents women’s world No.2 Maria Sharapova and Chinese star Li Na, said Melbourne was a chance not to be missed.

“We plan everything months in advance,” he said.

“There has been a shift to making the Australian Open the ‘Asian grand slam’ and I think that is really important for players and their brands to get that sort of coverage.”

Sharapova led the glitzy marketing charge with the launch of her own confectionary range at Southbank this week.

It is just one of a string of products to which she has lent her name, including Nike, Samsung and Evian.

Elsewhere, US stars Venus and Serena Williams were the centre of attention at a glitzy media event at the Olsen Hotel in South Yarra. Aussie Lleyton Hewitt also cashed in, unveiling his own apparel range at Myer.

Caroline Wozniacki will strut her stuff for a clothing range launch by Adidas on a tennis court made of mirrors.

Meanwhile, Li fulfilled her corporate commitments as a Crown ambassador.

Chief executive Greg Hawkins said aligning with the world No.6, who has a massive following in China, was hard to match.

“The Li Na sponsorship program provides Crown with significant increased exposure in Asia and is an integral part of Crown’s global marketing strategy to attract further international visitors to Australia and Crown,” he said.

Sam Stosur hit the court yesterday with Aussie cricketers David Warner and Brett Lee for an Asics promotion.

Australia’s No.1 women’s player admitted endorsement deals went hand-in-hand with competition.

“If you want the sponsorships you have a responsibility to do public appearances,” Stosur said. “As I have got older and better ranked, you realise you have a bigger responsibility than just playing the matches.”

Image Group International founder Jon-Michail said the Australian grand slam was one of the best marketing platforms for any player.

“If a tennis player has star qualities, they would be stupid not to consider brands and endorsements,” he said.

“But it’s also a huge opportunity for players to market themselves.”

He said the Williams sisters had built a great relationship with the Australian public and had benefited as a result.

Player Endorsements

Roger Federer – $45million

Maria Sharapova – $23million

Venus and Serena Williams – $23million combined

Li Na – $17million

Novak Djokovic – $10million

Andy Murray – $7million

Victoria Azarenka – $7million

Note: This media article originally appeared on January 13, 2013 in Herald Sun Click on the link to view article :

Melbourne window to Asia-wide market