Tennis has always had its share of child prodigies. But it needs younger fans too. So starting in 2012, a new set of rules will give players 10 and under the chance to play with scaled-down racquets and lower-bouncing balls on smaller courts. And in order to help spread the message about the more kid-friendly approach, the U.S. Tennis Association has promoted managing director of marketing Sue Hunt, making her its new chief marketing officer."
With the rule change, we see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive massive PR and awareness about the sport," says Hunt. "And to be frank, it is a little bit harder to get an older consumer to come to the sport than it is to target young kids."
While the USTA's main goal this past year was teaching the tennis world about the changes, Hunt wants to make 2012 all about talking to the kids themselves, on their own turf.
So she has spearheaded a major partnership with Nickelodeon, a channel that reaches both kids and adults. Beginning in March, when parents typically sign their children up for summer activities, the channel will air a number of specially created USTA ads, and next September, a tie-in with Nick's "Worldwide Day of Play" will result in 1,000 free tennis "playdates" for kids nationwide."
In the past, a lot of people have viewed tennis as something you learn and compete in," says Hunt. "We want to make them aware that it's also a great sport to simply play."