March 22, 2001
THE ERICSSON OPEN, MIAMI, FLORIDA
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Williams sisters announcement conference call. I will turn it over to Senior Vice President of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, Mr. Erin Patton.
ERIN PATTON: Good morning, everyone. I'd like to thank you for joining us on the call today. We have some very exciting news to share from two very household names - the talented tennis pros, Venus and Serena Williams, and Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. Joining us today are Rory Finlay, Senior Director of Consumer Marketing, and quite a handsome fellow I might add, and Venus and Serena Williams, winners of all four Grand Slams in the doubles category. I had the pleasure of watching them practice today and I can tell you they are quite ready to compete here at the Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida, which is where we are calling you from. This weekend the sisters will again demonstrate what truly distinguishes them from the tennis competition. At this point I will turn it over to Rory to talk a little bit about a partnership that will demonstrate the unique and distinctive nature of the Williams sisters off the court.
RORY FINLAY: Thank you very much, Erin. Thank you to everyone who's joined us on this call. We're truly, truly ecstatic to be here today to be talking about our partnership with Venus and Serena Williams and our Doublemint Gum brand. This is truly a big day for our company, because this is the first time in the history of this brand, 87-year-old brand Doublemint, that we have partnered with professional athletes. It's really a thrilling thing for us to make such a great association with these two ladies who are also history in the making. Venus and Serena bring such a bold and fresh style of their own, and their personality is quite amazing. I can attest to that with you here today. They are really distinctively different and really an outstanding fit for our brand, Doublemint. A "Distinctively Doublemint" campaign we will be airing later this summer. As you know, leaders of the pack of which the Wrigley Company is and Venus and Serena who are leaders in their field, always find a way to come together. So we're looking forward to many great things that will come in the future. We're very excited about the launch of our "Distinctively Doublemint" advertising campaign that will come later this year with Venus and Serena. So I'd just like to turn it over to Venus and Serena to make a few comments.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. Good morning to everyone. Serena and I are really very happy to be part of the team, especially be representing the Doublemint brand because really it represents Serena and I as far as our togetherness and as far as how we are with each other, how much fun we have in our relationship with each other. I think the Doublemint brand with Wrigley's has really given us an opportunity to show that and to show our fun side and to show really some of our characteristics off the court. The past year was really exciting for us and really we're just happy and really excited to announce our partnership with such a respected company as Wrigley's. Really, I guess I'll just pass it on to Serena now.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, also I would like to greet everyone good morning, and I would like to say thank you for joining us. But, yeah, I agree with Venus. We definitely have our distinctive style in singles. We're different, we play different from everyone else. In doubles, when you see us in doubles, it's so easy to see that we have this connection, this distinctively different connection. We strive to stay true to ourselves and don't follow the fads. We're definitely trend-setters for sure. We always do things first. That's why this is going to make such a great team and we're really excited to be a part of this. So Venus and our family, this is just something that's very exciting for us all. And just like the Doublemint brand has done for years with the same taste, style and look, we grew up -- when we were young, we grew up chewing it, so we're definitely looking forward to a wonderful partnership with Wrigley's which should last a long time. We're going to have a lot of fun with it.
ERIN PATTON: All right. Well, at this point we'll open it up to questions and answers. I'll ask from the outset that we keep the questioning brief and on topic. Our focus today is to discuss this partnership between the Doublemint Gum brand of Wrigley's and the Williams sisters. There will be an opportunity to talk to the sisters about tennis-related questions at some point here in Miami during what we hope will be an eleven-day stay all the way through the finals. So with that we'll open it up for some Q and A right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Hi, this question is for whoever can answer it best. I'm curious about how long the partnership is for and what is the financial arrangements for the partnership?
RORY FINLAY: The partnership with Venus and Serena is a multiyear partnership and it's a great opportunity for both of us. We're looking forward to it.
Q. Is that safe to assume you're not disclosing the financial agreement?
RORY FINLAY: Yep. (Laughter.)
Q. Venus, I'm sure the Wrigley people are hoping you'll be able to play in the tournament this weekend. How is your knee? Do you expect to be able to play?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Well, I'm looking to do my best in everything that I do, and really I'm happy to be part of the Wrigley team and really I'd like to do my best especially since this announcement is so exciting and popular for us right now to really be able to compete this week.
Q. I'm sorry. You were breaking up on me a little bit. You said you are going to be able to compete, you're hoping to compete?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I said with all the excitement that has gone on this morning, I'm looking forward to competing this week.
Q. This question is for the two sisters. Do you as competitors fear playing each other? How difficult is it for you to play each other?
ERIN PATTON: Sir, we'd like to keep the questions focused to this particular announcement today. Next call.
Q. This is for both of the sisters. I know you would prefer to talk about other things. But considering all of the controversy of recent days, if you just have any message for your fans that we could relay for you regarding that controversy.
ERIN PATTON: Next question, please.
Q. Hi, this is Tracy from Hot-105. We love you guys.
SERENA WILLIAMS: We love you. We listen to you all the time.
VENUS WILLIAMS: We listen to you all the time. We live down here.
Q. I know you all are going to the Art Institute. I'm just wondering if you're going to design something fabulous and green, because Wrigley's is in that green color. Are you going to be wearing fabulous green for the commercial?
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, green has become my new favorite color. It was blue for quite a few years, but I just --.
Q. You like pink, too?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I love pink. I think it fits my complexion. But some wonderful green evening gowns with some sheer silk would be fun.
SERENA WILLIAMS: That's a really good idea.
VENUS WILLIAMS: That is a really good idea. We didn't think of that. Thanks, Tracy.
Q. That would be really cool to see some nice green. What are you looking forward to most about doing this thing with Wrigley? I think it's cool.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes.
VENUS WILLIAMS: We think it's cool. We really believe in the brand. We don't attach ourselves to anything we don't believe in, that we aren't confident in. We're confident of the brand of Wrigley's. We believe it represents Serena and I because we do everything together. Doublemint Gum - Williams sisters: Perfect.
Q. I know you talked a little bit about your series when you play doubles, how one's the dependent player, the other can be the independent player. Do you have anything like that with respect to what you might do with Doublemint and a double venture? I just thought, "I'd wish they'd really expound on that."
VENUS WILLIAMS: Definitely so. Definitely. This is not an independent partnership. This is a dependent partnership. Doublemint and the Williams will not stray from each other. We're all going to be chewing together.
Q. Is there anything you guys want Hot-105 listeners to know?
SERENA WILLIAMS: We listen to Hot-105.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Chew Doublemint. Buy Wrigley's. Be like us.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Chew Wrigley's.
Q. I'm just wondering when you're going to be doing some of your first commercials?
RORY FINLAY: The first commercials that you'll see Venus and Serena featured in for Doublemint will be coming to a television near you this summer.
Q. So when will they be taping them?
RORY FINLAY: They'll be taped really between now and then. (Laughter.)
ERIN PATTON: Is that it?
Q. I'm just wondering how long this deal has been in negotiation and how it came about. I assume the Wrigley people initiated this?
RORY FINLAY: Actually, it was quite interesting. I think the light bulb went off with both Venus and Serena and the Wrigley Company about the same time, and we've been talking and working together for almost a year now. For us at Wrigley, when we looked at the brand Doublemint and just how unique it is and how distinctive, then we looked at Venus and Serena and we saw those same core attributes and equities, it just seemed like a match made in heaven, so we're very excited to be here today.
ERIN PATTON: Before we take the next question, let me ask if Amy from the Washington Post is still on the line. Venus definitely has something that she'd like to communicate for the fans. I don't know if we quite answered that question. If Amy is still there, speak up.
Q. I am here. Please go ahead.
VENUS WILLIAMS: Really I just want to say to all my fans, everyone watching, really just not to believe everything that you read. And Serena and I, we're really great competitors. We're fierce competitors. We really have no fear of playing each other. We've done it on five occasions already including two Grand Slams, and we really are just both looking forward to playing this week. Hopefully we'll meet each other at the end and we're just asking everyone to come out and watch us play and to bring their Doublemint along.
Q. I'd like to wish you all good luck on your upcoming tournament this weekend. I have a two-part question. The first is for the Wrigley Company representative. Does this change the advertising scheme for Doublemint? Are you all abandoning the long-standing Doublemint twins ad campaign?
RORY FINLAY: Doublemint is all about doubles. We have used, as everyone knows, we've used twins for quite some time now to communicate that, that uniqueness of the brand. With Venus and Serena, they're two-of-a-kind. They're wonderful sisters, and so we will be continuing that element of our communication but really now in much more exciting and relevant ways. So we've talked to our consumers in some really great language.
Q. Also I wanted to know which ad agency will be developing the ad for Venus and Serena?
RORY FINLAY: B Video Chicago, a fine organization in Chicago.
Q. Just wanted to wish you success on your new venture, and I have this question: How many commercials are we talking about in this multiyear partnership?
RORY FINLAY: We'll be doing several different pieces of communication, mixing it up between different elements whether it's television, whether it's print. So you'll see a nice mix of advertising and marketing components.
Q. Again, I want to say congratulations for the incredible new deal. The question that I have for you is the Doublemint twins have always really signified wholesome, American girlhood. How do you two ladies feel about being a part of what that image means?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We don't feel we're changing the image. We just feel we're adding to it. Even though we aren't twins, sometimes people mistake us for twins (Laughing).
SERENA WILLIAMS: A lot of times.
VENUS WILLIAMS: We feel like we're adding to the image, and we're happy to be a part of the campaign really just to be adding something, and we feel very fortunate that they've chosen us and we've chosen them and that we're partners together now.
Q. I wish you success on your Masters Series this weekend. My question is actually to the Wrigley director. I was wondering who actually are you targeting with this ad? Will it be a multicultural campaign, women, African-Americans?
RORY FINLAY: This will be a multicultural campaign. We're targeting what we call urban individualists. These are people who really want to do things differently and they want to stand apart from the crowd and be true to themselves. They really take pride in being individuals with multifaceted interests. So, if you combine that target with the brand Doublemint that is so distinct, and also the African-American target will be a key target for us with this brand. So when we bring all that together, we think we have an outstanding mix here.
Q. (Inaudible). I was wondering, is it a concern with you as sponsorship when you're trying to promote products such as Doublemint?
RORY FINLAY: We really are focusing on the relationship we have with Venus and Serena. We've been working with them for some time now and it's been a great experience for all of us. So we're really looking to maximize that partnership with everything we do for Doublemint.
Q. I first want to say thank you, Venus, for answering my question. I appreciate that. I was wondering, Serena, if you, too, also have a message for fans.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, I definitely support Venus in what she says. You really honestly can't believe everything you read because you just learn that, you know, when you're growing, you can't believe everything you read. Like Venus said, we're great competitors. We love to compete. We do the best we can all the time and that's all it is. We're just out here just playing tennis and now we're chewing Doublemint Gum. So that's about it really.
Q. I represent a large African-American community in Northern New Jersey. Every year we've had an A&P Classic in Mahwah, New Jersey. Have the Williams sisters ever considered playing in that tournament prior to the US Open?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I'm actually aware of that tournament. I believe it's an exhibition. So who knows? Maybe one day our travels will take us there. We'll see.
Q. Good morning, Venus and Serena. I was wondering, do you expect maybe to contribute to a higher profile of doubles tennis with this ad campaign?
VENUS WILLIAMS: We play as much doubles as we can. We've won all the four doubles Grand Slams plus the Olympics. That's been, like, one of our best goals in our life. We won the Australian Open this year, and we want to make the doubles Grand Slam. So we'll be competing in the rest of the Slams. So I don't know, maybe this could contribute.
Q. Doublemint has always been your favorite flavor? Spearmint tastes good, too.
VENUS WILLIAMS: You know, it does compete hard. But...
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, but...
VENUS WILLIAMS: We use Doublemint. We've used many of the other Wrigley's brands also.
Q. I have two questions. One is a question for Mr. Finlay and the other for the sisters. What motivated you to pick the sisters from the other top tennis players around?
RORY FINLAY: It was very easy to come to Venus and Serena when you look at how distinctive and unique and the style they bring to everything they do. That's something that's true to our Doublemint brand. So it wasn't a very hard decision for us to say, "Venus and Serena, come and join our team."
Q. And the sisters, congratulations on all of your achievements over the years. I want to ask you if you guys are looking forward to playing each other in the tournament?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, we're definitely looking forward to competing in the tournament, doing the best we can. Venus and I tend to do well here, so we should have a good time. We're just looking forward to it.
Q. Mr. Finlay, I just wanted to get your title again actually. I missed it.
RORY FINLAY: I'll spell my name as well. Rory, R-o-r-y. Finlay, F-i-n-l-a-y. And my title is Senior Director Consumer Marketing.
Q. This is for Venus. We have the Pilot Pen tournament here in Connecticut. Are you planning to come back and defend your title?
VENUS WILLIAMS: I'm going to do my best. I've won there two years in a row. I guess three would be a hat trick. It could happen.
Q. Are you planning to come?
VENUS WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'm going to do my best. Last year was very difficult for me playing three weeks in a row on the hardcourts then the Olympics. This year there won't be the Olympics so I think it's a really good chance. Hopefully I'll be healthy and happy.
Q. With this controversy flowing around, how have you guys been able to remain focused on your tennis and ad campaigns?
VENUS WILLIAMS: It hasn't been hard because we don't read what you all write.
Q. Tell me more about the community work that you're involved in. I understand that you're trying to build tennis courts throughout the country.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yes, we have the Venus and Serena Tennis Academy. It's actually in California. I was there not too long ago, about two weeks ago, to visit and see how it's doing. It helps kids come after school and have something to do so it keeps them out of the streets and helps them be able to do well in that aspect. So we're working toward that.
Q. I know you didn't release the actual financial statements, but I was just wondering if this deal would put you, both sisters, in the top of tennis athletes in terms of endorsements and whatnot.
ERIN PATTON: Next question, please. I think we've touched on that enough.
Q. Mr. Finlay, I was wondering if with the big buzz around Venus and Serena taking on endorsements for one of your brand names if you all had in the works any other up-and-coming athletes or already established athletes at the top of their game to do endorsements for other Wrigley brands.
RORY FINLAY: The answer is no. Actually, this is the first time we have ever joined forces with athletes such as Venus and Serena, and we're looking forward to this relationship going forward. But we don't have any plans to do anything else.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Patton, please proceed.
ERIN PATTON: Okay. Well, we would like to thank everyone for joining us. This is a very, very exciting day for the William Wrigley Junior Company, as well as the evolving careers of these two fabulous young women. We want to thank you.
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