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August 31, 2011

Billie Jean King

Priscilla Natkins

Deb Neuman

Jon Vegosen


CHRIS WIDMAIER: Good morning, everybody. Again, thank you for your patience. I'm Chris Widmaier, managing director of communications for the USTA, and I'd like to thank everybody for taking the time to hear about a very important association between the USTA, The Arthritis Foundation, and the Ad Council.
Without further ado, I'm going to turn it over to the USTA chairman of the board and CEO, Jon Vegosen who will start us off. We'll also be hearing remarks from the Ad Council and the Arthritis Foundation and seeing some pretty nice videos.
JON VEGOSEN: Thank you very much, Chris, and good morning to all of you. Thank you for joining us today for this very special announcement of what we feel will be an important and productive partnership between the USTA, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Ad Council.
Tennis is the sport for a lifetime, and you'll be learning later in this program why it's so very important for older Americans to stay active and keep moving.
Tennis provides this opportunity. It is a sport that not only provides a bounty of lifetime benefits, but also it is accessible to all in public parks, schools, and clubs.
Tennis is a sport that can be played at any age, and the USTA has programs for every one of them. In fact, USTA League is the largest adult recreational tennis program in the world. Over 750,000 people.
Statistics show that arthritis has a major impact on our society. We know that one of the most effective means to combat this affliction is to encourage people to move and stay active.
We're honored that the Arthritis Foundation will be using the sport of tennis in its ongoing public service campaign to encourage older Americans to keep moving.
To that end, we're here today to unveil for the first time a newly created PSA that features one of our sport's greatest iconic figures, Billie Jean King.
We could not ask for a better ambassador to promote health, wellness, and the benefits of staying active than Billie Jean. We're proud to showcase this new PSA at the 2011 US Open.
The spot you'll be seeing shortly will be incorporated into all of the USTA fan communications during the 2011 Open, and this will include showing the PSA on our video boards throughout the tournament, including on our four stadiums and throughout the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Now, the PSA and messaging regarding movement and its effects on arthritis will be included in all of our online assets, as well, including USTA.com and USOpen.org, which is the official website of the US Open.
We've also made a commitment to The Arthritis Foundation and to the Ad Council that we will work with our domestic cable broadcasters, ESPN and Tennis Channel, to ensure that this PSA airs during their broadcast of this year's Open.
This is an important initiative. Arthritis affects 50 million Americans, and tennis is a sport that they can play throughout their lives. In fact, over the next year, you will see the USTA bring a similar approach we are using to get children involved in the game to get more older Americans involved in the game, as well.
This approach uses low-compression balls and smaller-sized courts to make the game more accessible, easier to learn and to play, and certainly a lot more fun.
We look forward to sharing more information about this initiative as this program develops. At this time, it's my great pleasure to introduce Deb Neuman from The Arthritis Foundation to explain more about the need for movement as it relates to arthritis.

DEB NEUMAN: Thanks a lot, Jon. I'm delighted to be here for the release of this new campaign to fight osteoarthritis. The campaign reflects a tremendous commitment by The Arthritis Foundation and our partners here today who are dedicated to fighting the debilitating effects of this disease.
I do want to thank the USTA for hosting the premier at this venue. I could not think of a better time or place to launch this. The Arthritis Foundation is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of people with arthritis, and we remain very intensely focused on this mission, one which has really never been more relevant.
As Jon has mentioned, the numbers of people with arthritis are swelling to record levels, and we're facing in that regard a major public health crisis in this country. 50 million adults and 300,000 children have arthritis today, and it's on track to affect 67 million people by 2030.
It's the nation's leading cause of disability. It affects people of all ages. There's a huge economic cost, as well, about $128 billion annually to fight this disease.
So arthritis is a substantial barrier to using physical activity to help manage other chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It affects, in fact, half of all adults with diabetes or heart disease.
So it's important that we find ways to help people keep moving in the fight against all chronic conditions. We're proud to be leaders in taking action to improve the health and well-being of Americans by issuing a call to arms against the pain and negative impact of arthritis.
Our new campaigns targets people who are 55 or older and at risk or who have osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. The campaign encourages people to choose a weapon, whether it be tennis, walking, running, biking, swimming, or any form of movement to fight arthritis pain.
We want people to know that you can change the trajectory of osteoarthritis and the impact it has on your life. It's doable. The Arthritis Foundation's new organizational focus, in fact, is to make arthritis and society's acceptance of arthritis unacceptable.
So this ad will run alongside others in a series that promote the need to take arthritis seriously and keep moving as a way to combat this potentially debilitating disease.
This message pairs extremely well with the USTA's new focus on making modifications to the game so that tennis can be enjoyed by all, from children all the way up through people as they get older, which is, of course, our shared demographic.
We are especially grateful to the support of Billie Jean King who has osteoarthritis and who is featured in one of the new public service announcements. And while she was unable to join us today, it's my very great pleasure to introduce a brief message from her.
After the video, Priscilla Natkins, Ad Council executive vice president and director of client services will highlight findings from the new consumer research on Americans' perception about arthritis, and she will have the pleasure of unveiling a wonderful campaign the Ad Council has helped us produce.
BILLIE JEAN KING: As one gets older, I think we all suffer from it to a certain degree. That's why exercise is so important, and movement. Walk in the park, play tennis, go to the gym, take a hike, whatever works for you, but keep moving.
If you have arthritis, it's okay. You can deal with it. But don't think you should be sedentary. It's just the opposite. Think positively, make sure you move, choose whatever makes you happy, but keep moving.
Tennis is a weapon for me with arthritis, because it's what I love to do the most as far as exercise. There's nothing like it for me to hit a ball, run to the ball. When I finish playing tennis and exercising through tennis, that's when I'm at my happiest.
Any time, any court, I'm ready. Let's go. Yes, I want a rematch with arthritis.
PRISCILLA NATKINS: Good morning. We are just thrilled to join The Arthritis Foundation and the USTA to unveil this campaign. I want to thank Jon and the whole USTA team and Deb and the Arthritis Foundation for all of your work. You have been just wonderful partners.
The Ad Council has a very long and successful history of motivating Americans to take life-changing steps to better their health. Each and every message that we take on, be it underage drinking, high school dropout, drunk driving, or conquering obesity is based on solid consumer research.
And the research we conducted around this campaign showed that most people believe that the pain and limitations from arthritis are natural and inevitable. Arthritis is seen as an unstoppable part of aging, and along with it, the daily aches and pains.
As Deb noted, engaging in physical activity is a must, as it actually relieves arthritis pain and in some case delays the onset of symptoms. We did more research quite recently that found that only 16% - sad number - of those with arthritis are very confident that they can manage their pain.
Also, despite a belief in the effectiveness of movement as a way of managing arthritis, only 30% of people with osteoarthritis say this is something they actually do on a regular basis. Those are not good numbers.
Working with our incredibly talented pro bono agency Y & R, we knew we needed to build on our earlier advertising with a more hard-hitting strategy, one with a greater sense of urgency, one that was more action-oriented, and one that directly took on the fears associated with movement by urging those with arthritis to fight the pain by getting active.
This new campaign does just that: It empowers Americans with arthritis or those who are at risk for it to change the course of their disease and improve their lives.
The advertising in no uncertain terms communicates that you need to refuse to accept the pain and limitations of arthritis in your life and find your weapon.
The key being radio, print, web. PSAs focus on the power of activity, such as walking, biking, swimming, and of course playing tennis as those powerful weapons in the fight against pain.
And as Jon mentioned, the new ads are debuting throughout the US Open with great help from USTA. Your help is really invaluable. We really appreciate it. Again I want to give special thanks to the entire team at Y&R for their amazing talent and the countless hours they dedicated to this campaign. Cliff Skeete, Bruce Jacobson, Tara Boras, and Dana Davy, who are here with us today. You did an absolutely fantastic job, and in truly record time.
Now, it's my great pleasure to introduce one of our television PSAs. Let's take a look.
(Playing video.)
PRISCILLA NATKINS: There will also be print outdoors and in the room today, and we are also grateful for Billie Jean's support. She's truly our secret weapon in the fight against arthritis.
All the work, all the PSAs, direct audiences to visit fightarthritispain.org and USTA.com/arthritis where they can learn simple steps to reduce pain and increase mobility.
We're doing something interesting as well, we're kicking off a tennis challenge on Facebook with the USTA to encourage visitors to go to the Arthritis Foundation's Facebook page and submit pictures of themselves playing tennis.
Visitors will then vote, and the person who has the winning photo -- and I don't know what the winning photo is; it's up to the people who are voting -- will receive a package of tennis gear from Wilson, which is quite generous on their part.
So the ads are breaking nationwide this week, and unlike traditional advertising, the Ad Council does not buy media. We rely on pro bono space, and we are confident that the media community will support this campaign. This is wonderful motivating work, and we expect great results.
Thanks to everyone involved. We are so proud to be working with The Arthritis Foundation and the USTA on this important health issue. Remember, find your weapon and get moving. Thanks a lot.
(Applause. )
CHRIS WIDMAIER: That concludes the formal portion of the program. I'd like to thank Priscilla, Jon, and Deb. I think it's outstanding work. I can speak on behalf of Jon Vegosen and the entire USTA community how honored we are that tennis will now be incorporated into this tremendous PSA campaign, something that can help many millions of Americans.
So at this point I'm going to open it up to, questions, if there are any, regarding this program.

Q. How did the Arthritis Foundation come to be in partnership with Billie Jean King?
DEB NEUMAN: We were delighted when our partner, the Ad Council, introduced us to the USTA. They felt that there was a great synergy between what we were trying to do, which is to motivate people with osteoarthritis to move, and then the game of tennis and the mission of the U.S. Tennis Association.
So we met, and I would say it was a marvelous meeting in which we quickly decided there was a way we would work together. The U.S. Tennis Association asked us if we would like to debut the campaign here, and through that introduced us to Billie Jean King who has been extremely generous with her time and her support.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Any further questions?

Q. I may have misunderstood. Is there some sort of USTA campaign for older people, similar to the 10 and under tennis? Is that something you're working on?
JON VEGOSEN: We think anybody at any age can play using the QuickStart format. Certainly we want to promote it for 10 and under because we want to grow the game.
But for older people who have arthritis or just want to have fun, it's a great way to get into the game. I will tell you that in my own case I had an injury with my left arm and I started playing righty. I don't think I could have done that with a regular racquet, but I was pretty successful with the QuickStart format.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: And we are going to be investigating, meaning the USTA, will be looking at how we can utilize this new way of presenting the game to young fans, maybe to older Americans. Because of the nature of the low-compression balls and the modified size of the courts, it might be an effective means to keep people active, perhaps attract people who have never played it, even though they might be 60 and up or something like that.
So we don't have any specifics on that at this point in time, but it's certainly something that the board of directors has challenged the staff here at the USTA to say, Hey, this thing is working at the youngest level; doesn't it make sense it might actually work well at the other end of the spectrum?
JON VEGOSEN: And 60 isn't old. (Laughter.)
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Any further questions?

Q. You mentioned that this ad campaign compared to your last one was more aggressive. I wanted to know if you could tell a little bit more about the previous ad campaign and what led you to believe that it was or wasn't successful.
PRISCILLA NATKINS: I think it was successful. It didn't work as hard for us in having -- encouraging Americans to take action. We focused a lot on movement. Y&R did a wonderful job. It was more whimsical I would say and sort of a pop-lock theme.
Adorable, great work, but we felt people were holding back from aggressively taking on what they needed to do, so we ramped up the urgency a bit.
We did. We are proud of that last round of work, but we had to take it another step further.
DEB NEUMAN: If I could just elaborate a little bit, first of all, if you do go to fightarthritispain.org you'll see both campaigns. They will both in market.
But we asked the Ad Council to follow us as well as we looked at, at the Arthritis Foundation, how do we really ratchet up the sense of urgency of this disease and make it unacceptable in society.
We asked them to, say, for the next phase of the campaign, can you take it to another more urgent level. So we think the first phase campaign sort of opened the door and brought a lot of people in to think about the disease, and this one will take it to another level.

Q. Was this always planned to be a two-part campaign?
PRISCILLA NATKINS: I think all the work at the Ad Council, everything we do we always consider to be evolving. We do research up front and then we do research on the back end, if you will, to make sure that the work we have done with our volunteer advertising agencies is working as hard as it could.
And then we tweak the creative and tweak the strategy as we move forward. We've actually worked with Y&R on our UNCF campaign for 35 years, and that campaign has certainly evolved over time.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: With that, I'd like to thank the participants, members of the media. There will be transcript available that will be e-mailed out to all US Open credentialed media.
If anybody would need any photography of that nature or some samples of this artwork, you can get in touch with me, Chris Widmaier, and I will work with Ellyn to make sure that we get that done. Thank you, everybody.

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