BNP Paribas Open Goes ‘Full Bloom’ in Tournament Marketing

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The BNP Paribas Open, considered one of the premier tennis tournaments in the world, never had a marketing campaign to call their own until the tournament paired with Mirum Agency to turn the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California “Full Bloom” for the March 2018 event.

“The challenge I had was it needed to be fresh, new and, more importantly, unique to us,” Philippe Dore, the tournament’s director of marketing, tells HOW. “We are one stop on the ATP and WTA tours. Everybody can do tennis players and say the competition is awesome, but what is unique to us that nobody else can do? I kept going to that.”

A RFP allowed Mirum Agency to “wow” with their concept, and the “Full Bloom” campaign blossomed out of it.

Pictured: Elena Vesnina | All photos courtesy of BNP Paribas Open and Mirum Agency

Peter Sayn-Wittgenstein, Mirum creative director on the project, tells HOW that he took a trip to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California’s Coachella Valley after the 2017 tournament to gain a better understanding of the venue, a key point in the RFP brief. “I was just walking around,” he says. “It was a very striking setting. There are so many flowers on the grounds themselves.” Not only did Sayn-Wittgenstein notice the flowers in bloom, but after speaking with a security guard on site learned that truckloads of geraniums decorate the tournament every year. “This venue,” he says, “is really about things coming alive in the desert at this time of the year.”

With the concept in hand and the job acquired, next steps included refining the design by letting the energy of the flowers show the power of the star players. Sayn-Wittgenstein turned to a mix of geraniums to help tell that story. He pulled colors off images of six world-class athletes’ clothing, settling on six key geranium tones for the campaign to complement the players. Mirum then photographed the flowers at the San Diego agency to offer a “nice palette without being overwhelming.”

Pictured: Roger Federer

From there, Dore says, it was about Mirum presenting the tournament with a toolkit of designs they could implement themselves for the 200 pieces of collateral needed near the venue—from parking spot signs to hotel elevator wraps. Having a toolkit also allowed the tournament to involve others in the industry, the tennis world or advertising to piggyback on the campaign.

The Full Bloom concept launched in August 2017 to coincide with the start of ticket sales, with the BNP Paribas Open adding to the campaign all the way until the first day of the tournament in March 2018. The first-ever piece of the campaign appeared as a print ad in the 2017 U.S. Open program. “Making the design system work within a print ad, you are solving for a lot of things,” Sayn-Wittgenstein says. “We had eight to 10 partner logos, tour logos, the BNP tournament logo. They all had to be there. We knew if we could solve the riddle for the print ad, we had all the confidence in the world we could expand for signage or for television.”

Pictured: Simona Halep

Mirum kept working on a theme of explosive elegance. “There is a lot of energy in the flowers, but the players still need to be the stars,” he says. The tricky part came in balancing the emotional aspect of the flowers and players with all the “mandatories” involved, from sponsor strips to dates to logos to locations.

Dore says a highlight of the effort, which continued a roll-out right up to the start of the 2018 tournament, was when the television spots hit and he saw the flower explosion concept animated.

With the toolkit in hand, the tournament turned to partners and sponsors, offering a look inside, hoping they’d grab hold of the concept and use it in their design work.

Already the Full Bloom has run the gamut on design, going as small as a hotel key card to as large as a roughly 110-foot-wide stadium wrap and interstate billboards. Mirum, with experience designing for Rolex that includes working with Roger Federer and the requirements of the brand, knew how to respect high-profile athletes while working within strict guidelines and showing consistency. “We have a lot of experience coming up with campaign platforms that stretch from hotel keys to stadium wraps,” Sayn-Wittgenstein says. “We combined a lot of our strengths, but tapped into the passion here in Southern California and the love people have for tennis.”

Pictured: Rafael Nadal

The response for the tournament has proven positive too. “Both the ATP and WTA tours are very complimentary to what we are doing,” Dore says. “Player agents are very excited and appreciative and they love it.”

That love will extend well beyond the 2018 tournament. With so much work involved in creating the tournament’s first-ever unique marketing campaign, Dore expects Full Bloom to live on for at least one more year, if not another. The marketing team will sit down after the March event and discuss the next steps of adding a bit of a twist. “We are not going to relaunch another (campaign) next year,” he says. “It is unique to us, so it is kind of hard to move away from it. It is spot-on, and we are happy with it.”

With this campaign’s success, the future may bring Full Bloom 2.

Tim Newcomb covers sports design for HOW. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.