Game, set, match: Wimbledon inks a three-year deal with Snapchat

Wimbledon has a long, proud history as the home of British tennis. It is also, to be fair, a bit stuffy. Enter Snapchat, naturally.

The tournament, which kicks off June 27, has inked a three-year deal with the hot messaging platform to have a temporary home in in Snapchat Live section for the U.K., starting this month. The Live Story will compile snaps from people attending the qualifiers and the tournament. There will also be “takeover” days following the antics of tennis stars at the event. Snapchat will display Wimbledon as a Live Story globally on the opening and finals days of the tournament.

“We want to show that Wimbledon is willing to change its stripes, but it’s still keeping that core message,” said Alexandra Willis, who heads up digital at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon’s organizer.

Major Wimbledon sponsors Stella Artois, Evian and Jaguar might appear as part of the Live Stories, although Willis did not confirm any would actually do so.

Wimbledon is no stranger to Snapchat, having launched its characteristically polished behind-the-scenes account in 2015. That year, it also broadcast two Live Stories during its opening and closing days.

The partnership serves to grow Snapchat’s clout in live sporting events, an area rival Twitter has doubled-down on following its partnership with the NFL. The platform has forged a number of media partnerships, including a two-year deal with Turner, that let it broadcast sporting events on its Live section. Last weekend, BT Sport broadcast the UEFA Champions League final, while the NFL now runs weekly highlights. The platform has also rolled out real-time scores on its filters at all NBA arenas.

Since the platform opened its London office in October, brands have been testing out its reach. Recent figures from the platform indicate Coca Cola reached 70 million views with a nationwide filter over Christmas, while Cadbury reported 10 million views for its first lens on the platform.

“With social media, brands obsess on whether or not they’re on a platform themselves. But [Snapchat’s] an illustration that you don’t need to be on it to engage with it,” Willis said.

Besides Snapchat, Wimbledon is on a vast array of platforms outside the holy trinity of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It posts updates regularly on Line, Japan’s messaging app, as well as to Chinese-language platforms Weibo and We Chat.

Wimbledon has a social team of three, but this grows to 25 during the tournament. There’s no agency input, however, as everything is kept in-house.

“To properly reflect what Wimbledon is and what it’s like, you need to understand it and live the tone of voice,” Willis said. “We have a better output because we do it ourselves.”

“We’re trying to create an experience that’s the next best thing to being at Wimbledon,” Willis said. “We want to bring it to life, but keeping in mind who we are and staying true to what the event is.”

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