MADRID, Spain – The race to the 2006 Sony Ericsson Championships, the richest and most prestigious women’s sporting event in the world, officially launched today with the unveiling of a new name and edgy advertising campaign in the city of Madrid, host city of the event. Global superstar Maria Sharapova and women’s tennis legend and official Championships Ambassador Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario introduced both the new name of the Championships – the “Sony Ericsson Championships” – as well as the advertising campaign, IGUALES, designed to showcase the power and excitement of women’s professional tennis.
In recognition of Sony Ericsson’s role as title sponsor of both the Tour and the Championships, and in taking women’s professional tennis to the next level of entertainment through technology, innovation and investment, the new “Sony Ericsson Championships” name and logo were unveiled today. With Sony Ericsson on board, the 2006 Championships is expected to be the most compelling and innovative season-ending event in the over 30 year history of the Championships, and will include television innovations, electronic line calling and use of mobile technology designed to bring fans closer to the top 8 singles players and top 4 doubles teams in the world than ever before.
IGUALES, which means both “equal” and “deuce” in Spanish, is the theme of the 2006 Sony Ericsson Championships advertising campaign, and is designed to enhance awareness of the equality between men and women. Through the campaign, the Sony Ericsson Championships will serve as a vehicle to make the statement that men and women are equal not only as athletes and entertainers, but in all levels of life. The advertising campaign will be used for both the Sony Ericsson Championships and the ATP Madrid Masters Series.
Ms. Sharapova and Ms. Sanchez-Vicario were joined by Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott; Dee Dutta, CVP and Head of Global Marketing of Sony Ericsson; Manolo Santana, Tournament Director; Ion Tiriac, Championships Consultant; and Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, Mayor of the city of Madrid.
"I am really excited that the Sony Ericsson Championships will be held in Madrid this year," said Sharapova. "Madrid's reputation as a great sporting and cultural city is well established globally. And I love the new advertising campaign, which really shows off the excitement of women's tennis."
“There are so many great players in today’s women’s game that it should be a real treat for Spanish sporting fans to witness the very best female athletes this November,” said Spanish tennis legend, four time Grand Slam champion and official ambassador of the Sony Ericsson Championships Sanchez Vicario. “I’m looking forward to helping to promote the event throughout the year.”
“The 2006 Sony Ericsson Championships promises to be the best year-end showcase for women’s tennis ever,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott. “We are excited to be working with the city of Madrid, local promoters with a track record of unparalleled success, and a prestigious group of world-class sponsors and television partners.”
“We are very proud and honored that from this year the Championships will be known as the Sony Ericsson Championships,” said Dee Dutta, Sony Ericsson CVP and Head of Global Marketing. “Our second year of our sponsorship has seen us announce a series of exciting innovations that bring tennis fans one step closer to the players and the sport of tennis, and I look forward to working with everyone involved to generate a lot of passion and excitement for the 2006 Sony Ericsson Championships in the beautiful city of Madrid.”
“Since 2002 when we first arrived in Madrid, we have had the idea of putting together one of the most important tennis events in world, an event with male and female competition,” said Ion Tiriac, Championships Consultant. “After four very successful years with the ATP event, hosting the Sony Ericsson Championships this November means another step to achieve our goal. I believe Madrid will be a great experience, not only for the players and for all the international tennis family that we hope will join us, but also for tennis fans all over Spain that for the first time are going to have the opportunity to watch the best female players in the world.”
Following the kick-off press conference, and in the spirit of the IGUALES campaign and creating even more buzz around the Sony Ericsson Championships, Maria Sharapova participated, along with a panel of celebrity judges in the selection of the male model ball boys who will support the event in November.
The 2006 Sony Ericsson Championships will take place at the Madrid Arena, a world-class venue that seats more than 9,600 spectators and has been the home of the ATP Masters Series Madrid since 2002. Manolo Santana and his team will promote the Championships through a significant marketing and advertising campaign, further enhancing the global prestige and exposure of the $3 million tennis event.
The Sony Ericsson Championships has attracted an unprecedented group of A-list global sponsors, including Sony Ericsson, Porsche, Whirlpool, Dubai Duty Free, Hugo Boss, Wilson, Schweppes, Grupo Prasa, Estrella Damm and the Westin Palace Madrid, among others. Additionally, the Sony Ericsson Championships is once again set to be broadcast to millions of viewers across six continents and over 70 countries throughout the world, including via TVE Spain nationally (which will be broadcasting all matches), and Eurosport across its 54 country Pan-European platform (which will also be broadcasting all singles matches).
Madrid, the capital of Spain with a population in excess of three million, was chosen to host the Sony Ericsson Championships after an extensive and competitive selection process that involved 18 interested parties. Madrid was awarded the event because of its international stature, its reputation as a preeminent sports locale and the proven track record of the promoter and the Madrid Arena in hosting successful tennis events such as the ATP Madrid Masters Series, one of the world’s most successful tennis tournaments that attracts more than 100,000 fans yearly. Madrid also continues the event’s tradition of being hosted in internationally renowned locations, joining New York, Munich and Los Angeles, which has been the event’s home since 2002.
The move to the major European market and world class sporting city of Madrid represents another upward turn for the storied Championships, which showed significant increases in attendance and fan interest during its tenure in Los Angeles and now is buoyed by the backing of Sony Ericsson, which is driving women’s tennis toward innovative horizons in terms of cutting-edge technology, music and design since signing a landmark global title sponsorship with the Tour in January.
This year’s Championships are expected to be another stellar competition in the event’s long and distinguished history, which dates back to 1972 and has included the all-time greats of the sport, such as Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Held at the glitzy Madrid Arena, the event will once again feature the eight greatest singles players of this year and the four preeminent doubles teams in a round-robin format over six days, with the singles winner collecting a luxurious Porsche to be donated to charity and $1 million in prize money, equaling the largest winner’s purse in the history of women’s sports.