When you think sports marketing, you think Nike, Under Armour and Budweiser, but Ralph Lauren is on to something with its Legends Clinic, which yesterday featured Venus Williams.
When companies do events with their stars, they rarely stream them on the Web — aside from occassionally providing the media with a password to watch from afar.
That's different from what Ralph Lauren did on Wednesday afternoon. At 2 p.m. ET, they filled their home page with a high quality one-hour production that had Williams essentially giving anyone who was watching a clinic.
It was more fascinating than any media event I've ever seen. The host asked Williams about the limited-edition dress Williams will wear for the US Open (Ralph Lauren, of course), but mostly touched on how she plays her game — from her footwork to her serve.
In true 21st century form, those viewing online could ask Williams questions. One of the most interesting ones? Did Williams say a particular word when she served (like "bam") or did she think of something to get angry at?
"The concept was interesting from the beginning because of its potential to drive interest in the sport and to reach a larger viewing audience than many high profile televised matches will receive," Williams' agent Carlos Fleming said.
"While I appreciated that this was an innovative idea, it really hit home when I witnessed fans from around the world having a very personal interactive experience with Venus," Fleming said. "And they were having this experience days out from the US Open with the number three seed. The overwhelming feedback was a desire to play the game and a sense of better understanding."
Ralph Lauren even defrayed some of the costs associated with the event by partnering up with Mercedes-Benz, also a US Open partner, which had commercials running throughout the event.
If you missed the Internet broadcast, you can log on to RalphLauren.com to see the replay. I encourage anyone in the sports marketing business to watch the clinic, I think its a clinic on how deals can be maximized in the future by including branded clinics like this into contracts.
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