That’s the core question at the heart of ‘It Takes,’ the first global marketing campaign of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) since 2015.
Based on an idea by boutique brand experience agency Stevie & Fern in St Petersburg, Florida, the WTA asked more than 140 players, ranging from those in the lower ranks to rising talent and established stars, including US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka of Japan, about the main driving forces that helped to turn them into the elite athletes and women that they are today.
“We worked very closely with players and tournaments, because ‘It Takes’ is about their own identity,” WTA president Micky Lawler said in an interview.
“No two players are the same. What drives them? What does it take for them? There will be common factors, of course, but it is a very individually-tailored campaign.”
The player-led, multi-season campaign will launch on May 13 across the WTA’s digital channels, social media platforms, Tour events, and broadcast, the women’s tour said.
‘It Takes’ is the WTA’s first global marketing campaign since “Power to inspire” in 2015.
“To bring it all together, you really have to show it is good for the sport,” said Lawler, when asked why the WTA is launching a new campaign now.
“In the past, global campaigns have fallen flat a little bit. Now, with the investment that we have made in our digital footprint and really focusing on marketing more than the top players and top events, and really taking a 360-degree fully inclusive approach, we believe that the time was right, and that we’ve got an opportunity to build something bigger, and better.”
When asked what made ‘It Takes’ stand out from previous marketing efforts, Lawler said: “We asked every player, and every tournament, ‘What does it take to be you? Who are you?,’ and that gave the campaign real authenticity.
“It directly involved the players, rather than having an agency do the campaign and then design it in the way that they see it, which can often be very good, but we thought to do this really authentically, we need to involve all the members.”
The campaign launch video, which includes on and off-court footage of dozens of WTA players, including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Osaka, starts with a voiceover by US broadcaster and WTA pioneer Mary Carillo.
“A girl can dream, what does it take to get there?,” Carillo says in the 30-second clip. “It takes dedication, courage to fight, determination. It takes finding your true self, and bringing all of you, every step of the way.”
The video closes with a triumphant Elina Svitolina of Ukraine lifting the 2018 WTA Finals trophy in Singapore, as Carillo says: “Authentic, unapologetic. This is what it takes to live your dreams.”
The 140 player interviews were turned into a series of “personally-felt characteristics such as “It Takes HEART”, “It Takes FIGHT”, “It Takes BELIEF” and “It Takes PURPOSE”, to name a few,” the WTA said.
“It takes a very special individual to compete at the WTA level and I’m honored to be a part of this group of women who each inspire me every day,” said Osaka, a superstar in Asia and a member of the FORBES 30 under 30 Asia 2019 list.
“Whatever someone’s passion is, tennis or otherwise, I hope our sport encourages every fan to be their true self, seek new challenges, and believe in their ability to succeed,” Osaka said.
Billie Jean King
Founded in a London hotel in 1973 by a group of female tennis players led by Billie Jean King, the WTA is the leading professional sport for women, with 1800 competitors from 85 countries playing for a record $164 million in prize money.
“There is such a depth of field in the WTA today, that it is important to introduce as many players as you can,” said Lawler.
Last season, the WTA was watched by a record-breaking global audience of 600 million. Its 2019 season consists of 55 events, and finishes with the inaugural WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China in October, which will offer a record prize money pot of $14 million. That’s $5 million more than the season-ending ATP Finals for the men in London.
The new marketing campaign will also feature a series of “mini-documentary style player features designed to assist the existing loyal fanbase, as well as new audiences, get to know the players and tournament experiences better,” the WTA said.
“The main message is to tell the WTA story, to share with the fans what it takes to be a top athlete, or what it takes to be a WTA event,” Lawler said.
“And it’s not just about what you see on the surface. There is a lot more behind the story than what you see on the surface.”