By: Natalie Mikolich, Sports Publicist for NPM | PR (@npmikolich)
Now known as one of the top tennis towns in the U.S., Delray Beach and the Delray Beach Tennis Center have been the hometown courts to many local tennis players along with hosting some of the most prestigious tennis events in the world such as the U.S. Davis and Fed Cup ties. Also showcasing the future generation of American tennis stars during the national junior tournaments put on every summer at their public facility, the most well-known event of all to take place at the Delray Beach Tennis Center is the annually held ATP World Tour event – the Delray Beach Open.
Going on its 15th year of bringing out some of the hottest ATP World Tour tennis superstars and serving-up full court entertainment for local tennis fans, 2014 turned out to be one of the best years yet for the newly re-branded Delray Beach Open. Undergoing a complete marketing and branding overhaul in 2013, it was local WOO Creative (www.woo-creative.com) of Delray Beach that the event turned to in order to guide them through the process.
“In 2013, we started working with WOO Creative in Delray Beach on re-developing our brand identity and ad campaign,” said John Butler, Executive Director of the Delray Beach Open. “We are very into working with local talent for public relations and marketing of the event.”
One of the biggest changes to take place this year was renaming the ATP World Tour Event to the Delray Beach Open from the International Tennis Championships of Delray Beach.
“We wanted to be careful about using the word ‘open’ which means anyone can enter to play, but we truly are ‘open’ to anyone,” added Butler. “We had two pre-qualifying events this year with more than 200 players including juniors, college players and pros. We even have one player in his 70s who gives it a go every year.”
“Last year, after our first year handling the marketing materials for, at the time, the ‘International Tennis Championship of Delray Beach,’ my business partner and I were sitting in the stands asking ourselves ‘Why isn’t this tournament called the Delray Beach Open?’,” said Ryan Boylston, President and Founder of WOO Creative. “From there, we pitched the new name and a proper logo to the event’s Executive Director, John Butler, because we wanted to help put them on the same level as any other ATP tournament.”
Along with the new name for this year’s event, WOO Creative also worked closely with the Delray Beach Open team to refocus their brand messaging so that they were targeting true tennis fans with their marketing materials this year – which even included some special edition Dunkin Donuts just for the event.
“The main initiative was to launch the new name and logo,” Boylston added. “Although the marketing materials grew evolutionary from last year’s, we ensured to keep a lot of elements so that the consumer could still make the connection. We wanted people to know that this wasn’t a new event, just a better one.”
“Working with WOO, we took the ATP World Tour’s campaign graphics for the players and logos and toned them down for the tournament so that the players (the product) were even more easily recognizable in the marketing materials, especially because they had to work with both the ATP Champions Tour and the ATP World Tour logos and other mandatory inclusions,” Butler elaborated on. “We went through several revisions with the ATP before there was a consensus on our final campaign, including tweaking the player photos so they had less flourishes and using a darkened version of the ATP logos so they supported the ads rather than being a focal point.”
And with that, there also came a mock-up design of a tennis ball in the shape of a heart along with the tagline “I Heart Tennis” by WOO Creative. Once approved by the event, the local Dunkin Donuts next door to the Delray Beach Tennis Center on Atlantic Avenue began serving-up specialty yellow tennis ball, heart-shaped designed donuts in the week leading up to the start of the Delray Beach Open.
“As soon as we mocked up our first heart-shaped tennis ball, we knew we had something,” Boylston mentioned. “The donuts were just a nice little coincidence. It helps when your tournament kicks-off on Valentine’s Day and Dunkin Donuts is already serving heart-shaped donuts.”
On-site at the event this year, it was local Delray Beach Polaroid Fotobar (www.polaroidfotobar.com) who did all of the images of the players that filled the backdrops on stadium court.
“We wanted to have to have a ‘wall of family photos’ featuring the players in the tournament as a backdrop to the stadium action, and partnering with Polaroid Fotobar on the project, it enabled us to use the tournament’s tv visibility to expose a homegrown brand,” said Butler.
But, of all the new changes to take place this year for the Delray Beach Open, perhaps the one that “wooed” spectators the most was the new WOO Lounge skybox setup on the East side of the stadium in the middle of the stands. While some of today’s hottest tennis stars like John Isner were popping big serves on the court, in the WOO Lounge they were popping bottles of bubbly for their VIP guests who got some much needed reprieve from the sun at times during the day, or a place to lounge and socialize at night after work.
“We want tennis people to be proud of the way the event is promoted and want to make it just as exciting for fans who attend NBA Heat Games. We want the Delray Beach Open to be more than tennis with its entertainment, so you will see things out of the norm like the Volley Girls dancing on changeovers, in-stadium hosts engaging fans with contests and games, and the new WOO Lounge skybox area in the middle of the east stands,” Butler explained. “We try to take the event to the next level and want fans to appreciate the great spectator sport that tennis is, but also enjoy everything that is here so they walk away saying ‘that was not what they were expecting’.”
And to that extent, the Delray Beach Open and WOO Creative covered every inch of the court and town when it came to this year’s event so that not only were billboards and large cutouts of the top players seen throughout Delray Beach and neighboring cities, but they even reached residents in their homes by partnering with local businesses who also benefited from this year’s event.
“This year, we partnered with Delivery Dudes who included our brochures with all of their food deliveries in the weeks leading up to the event, and then during the tournament at the end of every session, we would do a cool promo on stadium court encouraging everyone to call Delivery Dudes on their way home so dinner was ready and waiting when they got home,” said Butler.
Delivering from most of the local area’s favorite restaurant locations, the Delivery Dudes (www.deliverydudes.com) pride themselves on their “hilarious and friendly staff” racing around town (including in other near-by locations like Boca Raton and Boynton Beach) to pick-up and deliver food orders faster than most deliveries are even possible.
“When I got the voicemail John Butler left me about wanting to work with us, I told everyone I knew how incredible it was that an event like the Delray Beach Open wanted to partner with us,” said Jayson Koss, Founder of Delivery Dudes created in Delray Beach about two years ago. “I was taken back to be on the event’s radar with the others like WOO Creative and Polaroid Fotobar who are doing really great things, but it was really fun to be apart of the event and we are very appreciative to have partnered with them.”
But, even with all the new branding, cross promotion and enhancements done for this year’s Delray Beach Open, there is still work to be done for next year’s event.
“My favorite aspects were the little ideas that infiltrated our downtown,” said Bolyston. “From the beginning, we have always felt that during the nine days of the tournament downtown Delray Beach should drip tennis. This year, we had cutouts of Andy Roddick around town as well as over 10,000 tennis ball coasters at all the bars. Next year, we hope to take that to another level.”