BLOG | by Tracy Schoenadel

The US Open has some of major sport’s longest-term sponsors. What’s it secret?

This year sees tennis’s US Open mark a special anniversary – it’s fifty years since the tournament made the transition from US National Championships and began to accept professional players.

Today, Flushing Meadows, Arthur Ashe Stadium and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre are names with significant meaning for tennis fans, thanks to the matches played out on the Open’s courts since 1968.

Many rights-holders lean strongly on that kind of heritage when leveraging sponsorship deals but the US Open is in the enviable position of having at least one partnership which has been around nearly as long as the tournament itself.

The Open has three top tier sponsors (but four brands which benefit thanks to the relationship between JP Morgan and Chase) – American Express, Emirates, and JP Morgan Chase. And in the case of Chase, the tournament boasts a sponsor relationship which has endured for almost 40 years – see table, inset.

So what are the benefits of this longevity? I delved into our treasure chest of data to take a look at one of the 16 metrics we track on thousands of brands – the public’s perceptions of Quality – to find clues.

The data tells us that there’s no question that tennis fans perceive all of the US Open’s top level sponsors significantly more favourably than the general public. In the chart below you can see the average Quality score over the past year among, first, the general public and, second, among tennis fans for each of the brands.

These significant across-the-board increases go a long way to explaining why the US Open’s sponsorship have lasted so long. When sponsors enjoy this level of support, it’s no surprise they stick around for so long.

So which of the Open’s sponsors is enjoying the largest percentage uplift in perceptions of Quality among tennis fans?

In fact, it’s the tournament’s most recent sponsor, Emirates, who enjoy a staggering 61.6% difference in relative terms. With data like that we may expect to see these three sponsors still on board when the US Open enjoys its next significant anniversary.

Footnotes

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TRACY SCHOENADEL
Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Sports, North America

Tracy is one of the leading authorities in sport marketing and sponsorship research with 25 years of experience in the sponsorship and advertising industry, as well as holding academic positions at University of Massachusetts Amherst, New York University, University of Richmond and University of Connecticut. Tracy was the original managing editor of the publication Sport Marketing Quarterly. She holds a degree in Sport Management.

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