Morgan Stanley sponsors WTA's youth-focused initiative
The GIST: The WTA has opened serve on a brand new sponsorship. On Wednesday, the tennis organization scored Morgan Stanley as a global sponsor and presenting partner of its youth-focused “Come Play” initiative, a multi-pronged approach to targeting younger audiences.
- To learn more, The GIST chatted exclusively with WTA president Micky Lawler and Morgan Stanley CMO Alice Milligan about the exciting agreement, as well as world No. 32 Leylah Fernandez.
The details: In addition to visibility around “Come Play,” Morgan Stanley signage will appear at select WTA events. The parties will also collaborate on a content series around financial literacy and planning resources for the tennis tour’s players. A penny saved is a penny earned.
The how: Lawler said the WTA reached out to “offer the benefits of women's tennis to amplify the work that Morgan Stanley is doing in the area of inclusion and diversity.” The offer aligned with the company’s push to attract younger, digital-savvy clients and “work with people at all stages in their life,” per Milligan.
The why: Morgan Stanley discovered two things while courting younger audiences, Milligan said: They want “to work with a firm that does good,” and that current and prospective clients watch women’s tennis. That research initially led the company to partner with Fernandez last year and eventually undertake the new WTA deal.
- The tennis tour offers an ideal cross section of clients to Morgan Stanley — Americans aged 18 to 44 are three times more likely to call themselves avid WTA fans than older counterparts, and the median household income of 2017 U.S. Open attendees was $182K.
The impact: Wednesday’s partnership comes a year after the WTA secured its most lucrative deal ever with title sponsor Hologic, and should provide another financial boost after the tour cut off ties with China. It also creates a snowball effect for the WTA, something Fernandez said is certainly felt by the tour’s athletes.
- “It motivates me as a player,” she said. “Seeing that more and more businesses are seeing us and helping us gives us confidence that we are doing the right thing and that we're on the right path and we don't want to stop.”
Zooming out: A deal between a sport that attracts high-net-worth individuals and a financial services company might look like business as usual, but the messaging here is notably different. Both the WTA and Morgan Stanley are hoping to lure young and diverse audiences, which may offer tennis an appropriate rebrand in its post-Serena era. Ace.