Why the Lawn Tennis Association’s first TV spot doesn't mention the Lawn Tennis Association
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) – the governing body responsible for getting more Brits to pick up a racket – has turned to traditional TV advertising ahead of this year's Wimbledon tournament.
The organisation enlisted BBH Sport to create a new campaign under the banner 'Go Hit It'. It centres on a new TV ad featuring regular amateur players and the voice of veteran commentator John Barrett, and also includes an out of home initiative encouraging people to seek out their nearest park tennis court.
For Alex Mawer, marketing director of the LTA, the brief was to get people playing tennis earlier in the season. "Wimbledon is coming the end of June and people play because they hear the jingle; they know the tennis season's about start happening," he told The Drum.
"But that's not the reason people play really - they play because they like being outside and it's sunny, it's that kind of sport. So what was missing was really the Wimbledon effect happening a little bit earlier."
For the summer, the LTA has centred on what playing tennis means to those who play tennis. Mawer explained: "We've come up with a brand position which we're very comfortable with, which basically comes down to hitting a ball and it being fun."
However the LTA's branding is overtly lacking from this creative. This decision appears carefully thought out – the governing body would not talk explicitly about the campaign on camera – and the initiative instead comes under the umbrella of British Tennis.
The labelling is, according to Mawer, "partly because people don't know what [the LTA] is and partly because it's not necessary. What's really important is tennis."
The director, who has come from a background of destination marketing, has the task of selling to the public a sport in decline. "Most sports are declining," explained Mawer. "And that's for a number of reasons. But I think what we particularly suffer from as a sport is that we're sort of under attack both from fitness and fun.
From the fitness point of view, the LTA believe the plethora of other sports now on offer is threatening tennis' viability as a source of fitness, while its lack of impulsivity when compared to the likes of football and running may stop it from being seen as a "fun" activity.
However Mawer believes the general perception of the sport is generally a good one - no thanks to Wimbledon - and perhaps the next challenge is getting more people playing even earlier than June. Until then, the LTA is pushing for people to play "more often" by starting to play earlier in the year, while "step two" will involve extending that period to when the clocks go forward.
"I don't know where another sporting governing body like us has really undertaken true, through the line advertising going to TV to promote their sport before,” added Mawer. “The fact that we've been able to look at a sport a sport as a brand is really exciting."