USTA MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 29, 2006
SONY ERICSSON OPEN Announcement
DAVID TRATNER: Thank you all for coming today. I am going to turn this over to our tournament ambassador and Miami's resident and tennis great, Mary Joe Fernandez.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Thank you, David.
Welcome, everyone. Good morning. Thank you for coming to this great day. I'm very proud to be the ambassador of this wonderful tournament. It was one of my first tournaments back in 1985. I was only 13 when I played it. I have very fond memories. It's truly the fifth Grand Slam. All the players have always felt that it was the fifth largest tournament. Both the men, the women have enjoyed it over the last 20 years tremendously. I'm very proud to be associated with the growth of the tournament.
I think the future of the game is in combined events with the men and the women showcasing the best-of-the-best. The tournament has always received the best fields; now it gets even better fields because it's mandatory for both the men and the women to be there.
I'm going to introduce to you the man who had the vision of starting this wonderful event in Miami. He's a great supporter of the game, of professional tennis. You know him. He played, as well. Mr. Butch Buchholz (applause).
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Thank you, Mary Joe.
Today is a very special day for us. We've always prided ourselves on our partnerships with the different parts of professional tennis. When we built the building, we really looked at the partners and said we need to deal with the press, we need to deal with our players, we need to deal with our fans and our sponsors.
There's a couple people here that I would like to just have you say hello to who have been great partners. One of the best decisions I ever made was to move the tournament to Miami, and the partnership that we had with Dade County has been beyond anything that I ever anticipated. So please say hello to the Head of Parks and Recreation, Vivian Rodriguez (applause). She makes that place beautiful.
Another partner which is part of the media, has been a big supporter almost from day one, is Rob Carerra (phonetic spelling), here from CBS. He's the Vice President of Programing (applause). We have a partnership with CBS through 2011.
Today, as I said, is a very special day. We'd also at this time want to take a moment and say thank you to NASDAQ who's been a great partner, a very honorable partner, and were willing to step aside and give us the long-term opportunity that this tournament needs.
Today we're announcing that Sony Ericsson will become our title sponsor for the next four years, and hopefully longer than that, Dee.
The commitment is for $20 million and plus. In fact, we don't even know right now because there's so many innovative things that we are going to do. The tournament has always wanted to be on the cutting edge of doing something in advance, and Sony Ericsson is going to give us this opportunity to explore areas in entertainment and professional tennis that we have never reached before. The person that's going to drive that is the person I'm going to introduce now, Mr. Dee Dutta (applause).
DEE DUTTA: Thank you. Thank you to the press for turning up on a very early start. I hope you enjoyed your breakfast. Thank you to the folks from Miami that give us their support, much appreciated.
It's great to be back in Miami. It's one of my favorite cities. I love it.
One of the things we decided when we got into tennis with the WTA in 2005 was this was a start of the journey. I think I said to most of you at that stage that we were beginning a journey, and we wanted to do something which was very strong and very interesting in the marketplace. So just to kind of set the mood for that, I'd like us to run that video if we may, and then I'll talk a bit more about this.
DEE DUTTA: As you can see from that, we have a concept in mind about promoting Miami and making this a truly unique Grand Slam.
What's different? Well, let me tell you the kind of thinking that I'm kind of working with IMG, my partners in WTA and ATP. We want to work on creating a truly differentiated Grand Slam, a Grand Slam, if you can imagine the US Open where we are today, is all about being the largest Grand Slam in the world; if you can think about Wimbledon as being about tradition; if you can think about the French Open as being about Gallic flair and tradition; and the Australian Open being about reaching out and being a premiere tennis event in the Asia-Pac region.
Miami will come to stand for something which is what tennis has been looking for for many a year. It's going to stand for the glamour, the passion, the excitement that is in tennis. It's going to bring together some of the elements that tennis has to take to move into the 21st Century. It's going to capture those elements, distill it, work towards it, refine it. It probably won't get it done first year. It will probably evolve over time. In people like Butch, Adam and the team in Miami, plus the IMG team that are supporting us, I am confident that we can deliver this package. It's a package that also builds upon some of the ideas of the Road Map that the WTA have created in improving and developing the tennis product as we go along into the next few years. It's part of that support that we want to provide to the WTA and to the ATP in making sure that we become as partners with them to create a product that can stand up to the challenges of the entertainment age.
Remember, consumers these days have a choice. They can go to a movie, they can play with their PlayStations, or they can go to a tennis or a soccer or a football game. What they have to now do is to take tennis in equal measures, take tennis to a new level. That's what we're trying to do.
So if you want to go back and think about Miami, I want to call Miami the "Glam Slam," that's what it's going to be. That's what it's going to mean. It's going to be that that we're going to create. That's the vision that we want to build, and that's the vision that I feel that as the premiere brand in tennis we, with our tennis partners, are seeking to create.
It's great now to see the players who want to join us with that. We see the tennis administration want to join us with that. I really want us to start developing this idea that tennis is more than it has ever been. Tennis has a lot more to offer. We have found through our 15-month involvement with the WTA that there are many hidden, unchartered talents that we can bring forward in tennis. For a brand which is about passion, which is about innovation, we feel that we can get more and more. And to become the title sponsor of the "Glam Slam," I think you will see something quite spectacular.
So thank you again for coming. I'd like to now hand it over back to Mary Joe.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Thank you, Dee. I like that, the "Glam Slam." I think the ladies are going to like that, Svetlana, what do you think?
I'd like to introduce Svetlana Kuznetsova, defending champion of what will become the Sony Ericsson Open. Svetlana had a great run there this year. She beat Martina Hingis in a terrific match, saved matchpoint, and then beat world No. 1 Mauresmo in the semis, and then Maria Sharapova in the final.
She's a terrific spokesperson for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. I'd like to have her say a few words about her experience with Sony Ericsson for the last 15 months and about what she's looking forward to next year at the tournament.
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA: Yeah, thank you.
First of all, I'm very happy. I was very happy when I heard first that Sony Ericsson gonna be a main sponsor of WTA Tour. It was amazing news for me because I think it's one of the best brands in the world. If they trust in WTA Tour and we can work it out, it means WTA Tour, it's one of the main sports in the world.
What it has been in the last one year and a half with Sony Ericsson, it's such a great improvement for us, so much glamour we have, so much communication. We feel so happy because Sony Ericsson give us a chance to show our personalties, to bring tennis to next level.
I'm very excited to go next year to Miami tournament, call it Sony Ericsson Miami tournament. It just amazing news. Everybody looking forward and happy to go there. I think it's gonna be Miami "Glam Slam" (smiling).
DEE DUTTA: Right.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: We have to thank Svetlana. She won yesterday a tough three-set match and it's not easy to take time when you're at a Grand Slam. Good luck, Svetlana, the rest of the US Open. We look forward to you defending your title next year (applause).
Now I'd like to ask the CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Larry Scott, who's been putting a lot of hard hours at work, to say a few words.
LARRY SCOTT: Thanks, Mary Joe.
Today's such an exciting day for professional tennis. I think it's one of those milestones that we'll look back on in a few years and sort of remember being here, remember hearing a lot about vision and what the idea was, and look back at this as sort of a defining moment for the sport finding a new gear.
Let me start by just congratulating everyone that's been involved in making this happen today. First, Dee, and your colleagues at Sony Ericsson, for stepping up to this new level. Couldn't have picked a better tournament to be associated with it. Certainly, a shining light and jewel in the Tour crown.
Butch, congratulations. When you think about the word "vision" in tennis, you think about Butch Buchholz. He's been a real pioneer, way ahead of where anyone else's thinking had been in terms of what this event could become, bringing the men and women together, staunch supporter for combined events and being associated closely with the players and the tours. And your great team at IMG led by Adam Barrett and his group have just done a stellar job in getting the tournament to where it's at today.
Also to Richard and our friends at the ATP. This is another step forward, I think, in our efforts to do more together to have Sony Ericsson now take the first step into combined events, and the men's tour, as well.
There's a lot of poetic justice to the fact that Miami is the first tournament that Sony Ericsson is stepping up to title as part of this next stage of their tennis investment strategy. I remember back - it's hard to believe, Dee - but it's less than two years ago that Dee and I met each other for the first time in Miami at Sony Ericsson's Latin American offices there to have the first conversation between us about what tennis could be. Dee was certainly thinking tennis with a capital "T" at that point in time, but was particularly attracted to the women's game at first.
Our conversations went very, very quickly because there was a shared vision for a future potential for tennis and taking tennis more further out to broaden its popularity, more toward entertainment and lifestyle. At that point in time, we knew we were starting sort of with the women's tour, with the players, with the tournaments, and we knew that it was a dramatic step in its own right.
But Dee had also said to me at that time Sony Ericsson is a young company, we're three years old, we're in one of the fastest-moving industries in the world, we plan on being very aggressive, gaining a lot of market share, and if we're successful as a company and if the WTA is successful in proving value to us, this is just the beginning of what we're doing here now, and it will lead to more. It will lead to more within women's tennis and beyond in terms of helping the vision for bringing tennis together, men's and women's tours, some of the other entities, and we can work together to help take tennis to a new level and get it the recognition it deserves, get the players the recognition that they deserve.
It's enormously satisfying, I have to say, personally and professionally to be here today, only 18 months into our partnership to hear Sony Ericsson so happy and convinced that they made the right choice when they signed up January 1, 2005 to create the Sony Ericsson Tour; that things are working so well; that they believe and the whole company believes in tennis, and they've decided that this is a long-term strategy for them where they're going to make even greater investments.
I think it's a real credit to -- I just want to acknowledge Svetlana being here. We rode over together. I said to her in the car one of the reasons this announcement is happening today is because we've got players like you, great ambassadors for the sport, that get it. In the middle of a Grand Slam, the day after a tough win where you were down a break in the third, you're getting in the car to come to a press conference to talk about a sponsorship. If it wasn't for the players understanding the pieces of the puzzle that are required to make women's tennis grow, this announcement wouldn't be happening today. So we're very fortunate right now in the game to have some players that really understand the business, understand what it takes to make it successful, and I think that bodes extremely well for the future.
What Sony Ericsson has brought to tennis already I think also bodes well for the future. One of the things that they've done is really created a cultural shift in terms of how we at the Tour sort of look at the direction we're taking this sport in. We've gotten I think much more proactive and active and had the resources working with them to be more innovative and more dynamic. So when you think about the changes in the game, I mean, being here at the US Open with electronic line calling and instant replay being responded to so well, we kicked that off at the NASDAQ-100 this year, very much pushed by Sony Ericsson.
A lot more, as Mary Joe can attest, a lot more is happening with TV, prematch interviews with players, coaches regularly being interviewed. There's a lot of television innovation going on now. We've been pushing the envelope working closely with the players to sort of go where tennis hasn't gone before, and the players have understood we're going to push them outside their comfort zone a little bit, be respectful of course of the sport and traditions. But if we're also prepare to be open-minded and experiment a little bit, that can also take us further faster.
Now, of course, trial in coaching on court, which is controversial, yes. Talking to some people here earlier, I know the tiebreak was controversial when it was introduced. I'm not sure whether we're going to think this is a great thing at the end of the day that we're going to want to continue with or whether it won't make sense, but I sense it is going to be something from early reactions from television and fans that's going to have some traction.
These things wouldn't be happening if Sony Ericsson hadn't come on board with the Tour because they've pushed us to innovate further faster than we might have otherwise.
The intangible is that they've given the players and the Tour the confidence that we've got commercial partners that believe and support and want to see this kind of thing happening. So it's enormously satisfying from that perspective.
Then the last thing I just want to say is I guess it's three and a half years ago, also in Miami - all roads seem to lead back to Miami - that Butch was kind enough to sort of introduce me to the press as the incoming CEO of what was then the WTA Tour having been at the ATP for eleven years in different management positions there. One of the things I said to the media gathering at that stage is not only do I have a firm belief in what women's tennis can become and am going to be very focused on that, but it's one of my goals, because I think it's best for tennis, if we can bring the tours together more closely, do more together, and create more combined events and figure out ways to grow the sport together.
I think what's poignant about today is that I think this is the first - with Sony Ericsson having been a women's tennis sponsor, you see them stepping up now and making the next step to want to sponsor a combined event - and I think this is the first of what will be even more sort of investments in this direction.
Dee mentioned the Road Map. I mean, that's really about growing women's tennis but also creating more opportunities for big, combined events. Without the support of sponsors and commercial partners, we could not make that happen.
What I just want to leave you with is I think today you will look back on as a milestone, and this is just the beginning. There's a lot more to come.
Thank you (applause).
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Thank you, Larry.
Just to add, I've been at all the tournaments this summer for the US Open Series, and I give a lot of credit to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for the innovations, for the experimentation. Electric line calling has been a huge success, and it was started at Butch's tournament. It's just been getting better and better.
The prematch interviews, the post-match interviews, in Canada and New Haven we tried the on-court coaching which I think the players are going to get used to it. Now that I'm on the TV side of things, it's so important for the fan to be able to connect with the players. Thinking outside the box, like Sony Ericsson does, and Dee said it, we have to be in the 21st Century now, is what's going to take tennis to the next level. We're getting there slowly but surely with Sony Ericsson's help.
Now I'd like to introduce to you the President of ATP Properties, Richard Davies, for a few comments.
RICHARD DAVIES: Thank you. We are delighted on the men's tour to have Sony Ericsson involved in Miami. Miami is a very important event in our calendar. Butch has done a lot to increase the status and the value of that tournament. We are very happy and we open our arms to Sony Ericsson who we know will be very innovative and very creative. You've heard some of Dee's ideas already today.
Sponsors are very important, but, more importantly, active sponsors is what the game needs. There's a lot of value in both tours. Our stars are becoming more aligned. Etienne de Villiers, our chairman, and Larry are working closely together to try and showcase the best talent, and Miami is a great venue for showcasing both tours.
I really believe that Sony will be able to bring the real value that we have in both tours to a greater audience. That is something that we're really looking forward to.
I'd also like to say thank you to everyone involved in bringing the deal together. I really do hope that this is a first step and that we can look forward to many more of these opportunities to sit down and talk about how both the men and women's tour can work together and, as I say, showcase real talent.
I don't know those of you that were here beginning of last week, end of last week, there was a party put on by ourselves and USTA, both tours. I think there again was an example of how much we can offer the media. I think tennis has suffered in the last five or six years from perhaps not being able to get the distribution of the talent. I think this partnership is crucial to both tours, and we're delighted that Sony Ericsson are involved.
Thank you (applause).
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Thanks, Richard.
I'd like to acknowledge our Tournament Director, Adam Barrett, who does a phenomenal job, Butch and his tremendous staff. Again, as a player, now on the other side, it's the best-run tournament. It's going to be a terrific fit with Sony Ericsson.
Now if anyone from the media has any questions for anybody up here...
DAVID TRATNER: Questions.
Q. Did NASDAQ express interest in renaming the tournament?
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: We really didn't get that far, Dan, in terms of they have another year. They are still going to play a major role as a sponsor in next year's tournament. But this opportunity came up with Sony Ericsson, and the vision that Sony Ericsson had for the tournament really fits for that venue and the city of Miami. I think NASDAQ was very gracious in saying, We don't have that long-term view, you have this opportunity, and we don't want you to miss that.
I think we're all, everybody that's worked with the NASDAQ people over the last four years, are extremely grateful for everything that they did. They were very honorable. They were helpful. Do I think they were going to go for another five years, probably not. This opportunity came up with Sony Ericsson that the tournament really could not afford to miss.
Q. This is a marketing thing and a branding thing, too. If you want to create a new Grand Slam, you have the experience in tennis. (Question referring to the name change of the tournament and whether it is a long-term partnership).
DEE DUTTA: I think you make a very valid point. The fact is whether we do it for four years or 45 years isn't material; it's what we do with it. I think you're absolutely right. It is our intention that this will become a long-term partnership. Sony Ericsson is not in the habit of going into something and then after four or five years saying, Yeah, we will cut and run. We will only cut and run if it hasn't worked for us, but we expect that this will be a long-term partnership between us and tennis and also Miami.
This four years was the first term that was available; we have signed up to that. I expect that if all goes to plan and we really do create something differentiated - and let's be absolutely clear, if this is another tennis tournament, this ain't gonna deliver us what we are looking for. We need to create a completely differentiated package that respects the values of tennis, that builds on the future of tennis, that creates a tennis ready for the 21st Century entertainment challenge. If we can do that, we're going to be in Miami for a long time - in fact, I'm looking for houses there (smiling).
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Let me just add to that. We're in the entertainment business. I've been saying that for a long time. We now have a title sponsor who really shares that belief and is going to take it to a level that I can't imagine. I'm very, very excited about it.
I also want to say that the partnership that we had with the ATP and the WTA over these last 22, 23 years has been great. It's really good to hear Larry and Richard talk about the fact that we're ready to take this next step in the entertainment business.
I think tennis is finally getting it. Again, Dee, we're really excited about working with you and making sure that you are going to be there for 45 years.
Q. Mr. Dutta, Sony Ericsson has so many areas of business. Can you just back up a little bit and tell us why tennis has worked for you. Is it about the fact that it's a worldwide sport? Sony Ericsson in the U.S., is that a big region for future sales?
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Basically, why Sony Ericsson has worked in this region.
DEE DUTTA: Thank you for that question.
When we went into our tennis partnership with the WTA which was in the start of 2005, I had three key goals. One was to extend the brand globally, and tennis is a premiere global sport that allows us to do that. Our second thing was to make sure that we captured the passion and the innovation of tennis. And certainly, you know, what I've seen, I mean, yesterday's match, Agassi-Pavel, great match. Some of the matches I've seen Sveta play and also some of the other women players play truly captures the passion and innovation. So for our technology brand to associate itself, that was a great plus for us. And the third thing was for us to be able to showcase innovation. Sony Ericsson stands for innovation. We are in the business of innovation. Therefore, the innovation has been the byword of our involvement. That's one of the things that Larry Scott and I have worked very closely together to make sure that we keep this momentum of innovation that respects the spirits and values of the game.
Having learnt all of those things over 18 months, when the team at IMG and Butch's leadership came to us with the opportunity to get involved in a premiere event such as Miami, this was too good an opportunity. They have a vision about what we want to do, which is to create this "Glam Slam." They want to create this and they want to help us do that. IMG have great expertise in fashion and in entertainment, and Sony and Sony Ericsson have a good understanding of music and the whole entertainment arena. To bring these two companies together was a truly momentous opportunity. To do it with the tennis as the core, this was a dream come true.
So that's why we're here today, because I believe that this was a partnership that was ready. I think we couldn't have done this maybe a year ago because we hadn't understood. We needed to learn about tennis. We needed to understand the dynamics of it, what value we can add. I believe as a sponsor we have a responsibility to the development of the sport. We have to make sure the sport under our stewardship as long as we're sponsor grows, develops; that we don't just take things out of it, we put something back into it. And if we're going to be putting something back into it, that's going to be for the positive.
So all of those things we had to learn. Could we contribute something positively into this sport? Once we said the answer was yes and we had the right property, we will invest. That remains my policy throughout the thing.
Assuming we have the right things and we can do something with it, you know, we're not in the business of handing a check over, putting our name on it and saying, Good-Bye, see you next year, I'll drink the champagne with you. I'm more in the interest of, What can we do, How can we improve the fan experience, How can we improve the viewer experience, How can we improve the player experience.
These three things I've been saying since my involvement with tennis, and that remains the core principals of our involvement in tennis and will be something we carry through into the Miami tournament.
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: That's why we're excited (smiling).
Q. I'm curious, Sony Ericsson was a sponsor for Tennis Masters four or five years ago, was it not? What's happened? Is this Sony Ericsson II? What happened between one and two?
DEE DUTTA: Okay, let me give you a small correction there. It was Ericsson that was the sponsor, not Sony Ericsson. This is a completely different company. This is a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson which is a 50/50 joint venture. There is a new management team. This is completely a different team with a different aspect.
I think if I can look back on Ericsson's involvement with Miami, that was what I call the "old world of sponsorship" where you gave a check, got involved. This is not about taking the passions and innovations of tennis. This is about what we need to do. Once you do that, that's when sponsorship makes sense for you.
So, yes, there were some of the people who were there are still around our business, but the people that are now taking our marketing decisions, and basically myself as the new head of Marketing for Sony Ericsson since 2002, I believe that what we have to do now is to create this new thing. It was a different management, different thing. This is Sony Ericsson; we are very different from Ericsson.
Q. I know this is way down the road, but everybody's been calling this event the "fifth Grand Slam," now you just referred to it as the "Glam Slam." The ATP and WTA are working together on so many levels, there's so much potential here. Can you tell us what the possible process would be about becoming an actual Grand Slam and if those conversations have started. They seem to unofficially have been started a while ago.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: That's all you, Larry.
LARRY SCOTT: Yeah, sounds like a very political question right there (laughing).
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Glad you took it (smiling).
LARRY SCOTT: Just to clarify, there's no plans that the ATP or Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have to create another Grand Slam. I mean, the Grand Slams have a hundred years of history and tradition behind them. They're the unique pillars of the game. They cannot be replicated and we're not trying to replicate what they are. They've got a very special place in the game. They drive the growth of the game; we respect that.
Our vision is that after the Grand Slams we've got 60 events in 30 countries around the world more or less on both tours, and there's a fantastic opportunity to take all the talent that we've got on the men's tour and women's tour, bring it together on a few of the biggest showcases in the world, and we're talking about three or four or five times, not overdoing it, but three or four or five mandatory combined events. The Sony Ericsson Open has led the way. We've started there.
This is part of our plan called Road Map 2010. The ATP has got a similar plan. The idea is that this vision will start coming to fruition really in more full focus in 2009. I think that's the first year you'll really see the plan start rolling out in a way that's more visible and perhaps branded.
But that's really what the area focuses. There's all kinds of other levels of cooperation, but just to clarify the point you're asking me, we're not trying to recreate something or take anything away from what exists. But beyond that, the other weeks of the year we think there ought to be more high points during the Tour season, big platforms where the media and fans really focus because they know they're going to see the best from the men's tour, the best from the women's tour come together around the best events, and that we hope will just raise the level of marketing and publicity for the sport.
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Any more questions? (No response).
BUTCH BUCHHOLZ: Lastly, I just want to say thank you very much for coming this morning. I know you have very, very busy schedules.
Also, I just want to say thanks to the Sony Ericsson staff and the Key Biscayne Sony Ericsson staff in Miami for putting this together. This was done very quickly, and if the work that's been done in these very few weeks is any indication, this is going to be a great partnership. We're off to a great start.
Thank you all very much for coming. Appreciate it (applause).
MARY JOE FERNANDEZ: Thank you very much.
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