The new digital effort, from Perform and Analog Folk, apes the comic book look and feel of the print and television campaign and includes Web videos, dubbed by the entity as "Hero Chronicles." Three 5-minute-long videos explore exactly how these women achieved their tennis "superpowers" and how they use them.
In one of the videos, Venus Williams says her parents told her from an early age that she had "special abilities to be great." Later in the video, Williams notes that she uses her super powers for "my good, not the greater good." (Others in the video, including Williams' sister Serena, are less cheeky.)
"We were very methodical with the campaign launching last year, knowing we were going to launch the online component in 2009," Stacey Allaster, president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, tells Marketing Daily. "It really builds on the incredible female athletes who are superhuman both on the court and off the court with their charitable activities."
The site also includes several shorter videos intended to be sent virally or posted to blogs. Each of the videos explores one player's particular superpower (which can include agility, speed and accuracy) in a fun manner. In perhaps the best of them, Venus Williams shows the strength of her serve by shooting balls at the line from the South Carolina Commanders defensive line. As they are hit by the tennis balls, the men writhe in paid and hobble around the court.
"We knew in the digital space, this [Hero] theme would work," Allaster says. "The online component allows us to bring to life the athletes' personalities."
In addition, the site includes links to a "Hero Powercards" virtual trading card game and contest. In the game, players match cards up based on specific abilities, trying to outdo their opponents. The winner of the online game will get a trip to the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar. "This is very much about engaging the fans," Allaster says. "It's a nice way to have the fans interact and link with the championships in Doha."
The site aims to be the one-stop shop for WTA fans, Allaster says. The site also includes live score feeds, daily tour highlights and a personalized "My Locker" section in which people can personalize a newsfeed to bring them information about their favorite athletes and tournaments.
In the near future, fans will be able to share their feed, pictures and videos through social networks. The online portal will be the future of the Sony Ericsson Tour's marketing effort because it provides a simple way to connect fans with highlights, stats and each other, Allaster says.
"It becomes the network for us to promote the tour and the brands," she says. "It will become a key marketing area for us."