The other significant change, from a branding point of view, is that it is the first logo since the ATP was launched in 1972, that has adopted a landscape format rather a portrait one—a nod to the huge changes through the last decade in how media are used across the globe.
No longer is print king: now the web page dominates, along with their supporting apps; now it is laptops and hand-held devices, not newspapers. This dynamic but streamlined image will fit the online era far more comfortably, and its lean components will work in small formats and, if necessary, in monochrome.
So it is practical, but what about the message?
The brief, according to the ATP announcement, is to “engage casual sports fans”, drive digital/broadcast engagement and grow tournament attendance, and also to build on the young and dynamic changes trialled in the #NextGen campaign.
The brand identity will be built around the “Love It All” message, which is designed to convey the excitement and drama of the sport.
The launch material ties this marketing initiative to the various other innovations that have been taking place on the men’s tour in the last couple of years. They include the testing of new rules and formats at the NextGen ATP finals—shorter sets, Hawkeye in place of line judges, shot-clocks and towel boxes among them—plus the controversial new ATP World Team Cup competition from 2020, which threatens to compete with the reformatted Davis Cup.
Chris Kermode, the ATP Executive Chairman and President, said:
“We’re taking a bold approach in everything we do at the ATP, from our pioneering broadcast partnership with Amazon Prime to the innovations we’ve been testing out at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.
“It’s an exciting time for the sport, with a mix of unbelievable legends still at the top of their game and a next generation of stars emerging, so this is a great time to be engaging new, younger fans around the world.”
Not that all the players are particularly enthusiastic about some of the innovations. World No1 and the favourite to win the title in London this week, Novak Djokovic, said before the tournament:
“I’m still a bit undecided about whether I support certain changes or not. I am in favour of innovation, progress and being creative and thinking out of the box, but I probably don’t like all the implemented rules of the NextGen finals. But I support the idea of experience, because you have to see how it goes so you can have some of them implemented on the tour.”
Alexander Zverev, who is still just 21 years old, has qualified for the NextGen ATP Finals for two straight years but opted to play the ATP Finals. He, though, has been far from seduced by the innovations at the young players’ finale in Milan.
Asked if he liked the changes, he replied with a stark “No”, and of the format and scoring changes, he added: “There’s no future in that.”
The winner of the NextGen title, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, has been vocal in his dislike of the towel boxes, while Zverev has taken to that concept. The young Greek, who only missed out on London by a few ranking places, was also against on-court coaching via headsets, and many times could be seen studiously ignoring his father’s pleas to speak with him.
However, some elements have found favour, such as the on-court shot-clock, which was successfully introduced to the entire US Open series this summer.
But perhaps the toughest issue is how young players who are already winning titles on the main tour can switch between one set of rules and formats and another overnight. Indeed so significant are the differences between the tournaments that there are no ranking points for the #NextGen Finals.
The next year or two will perhaps settle a lot of uncertainties, not least the impact of the reformatted Davis Cup, where it falls in the calendar, and whether players will opt instead into that alternative team event being introduced by the ATP in 2020.
Will the younger generation who have experienced Milan be willing to take on board bigger changes to the sport when the older generation begins to hang up its rackets—and six of the current top seven in the ranks are 30 and over, with Zverev the only youngster among their number.
Only time will tell if players and fans will indeed “love it all”.
The ATP’s brand and marketing campaign will go live on 1 January 2019.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge