The WTA Debate

Working for MVT PR on behalf of The Connecticut Open always feels like vacation. Connecticut is a small women’s tournament that is charming and welcoming in a New England way. The social/digital team enjoyed more than a few food truck breakfast sandwiches, Ben & Jerry’s Peace Pops and lobster rolls. At night the small team gathered to visit and plan for the events of the next day. At New Haven we get an all-access slot with some of the top seeded players at the tournament. In the past we have used that time to do a Tonight Show style “Whisper Challenge” and a timed triathalon of children’s games. This year we were without our onscreen personality and usual host, Nick McCarvel. What to do? We bandied about a lot of ideas but started cracking one another up with the idea of staging a fake election season debate. For a little context, it was then the time of the summer when the conventions were over and the real presidential debates were about to begin.

Pulling politics out of the equation, we decided to have our tennis players debate ridiculous topics like, “What’s better pizza or pasta? What Disney movie is the best, Frozen or Finding Nemo” Our players were Danish, Czech and Italian. Their reactions were great. We filmed each separately at the same podium. I shot with compression to give the picture more of the feel of a real debate. I directed them in shaking their heads to agree, disagree, looking stern, looking happy…a range of emotions so that there was a lot of footage to play with in post. Caroline Wozniacki was last. We had a two hour break before her portion as moderator needed to be filmed. Based on the other’s reactions to questions, we quickly wrote Caro’s script including direction for inflection and attitude. She will likely be a broadcaster once her tennis career is over. So it all meshed perfectly. As the most Americanized of the group, she intuited quickly what we were doing. Her read could not have been better.

Then for the next two days I edited the piece. I cribbed CNN’s debate graphics for the parody. All in all it was a ton of fun to make the women talk over one another and to create arguments when they had all originally been shot separately. Roberta Vinci ended up being the funniest. Petra was classy wearing her bronze medal from Rio. This debate video is probably the most complicated edit I completed in 2016 because of how much tweaking of the timing was involved. Hope you enjoy! It did gangbusters business for New Haven. Over 200,000 views on Facebook, YouTube & Twitter. 200k is a solid number for a smaller sized tournament that did not have the top three women participating. The WTA retweeted and then all of the players who participated retweeted. Petra even sent Roberta little emoticons of pasta. The organic spread of content is necessary for a semi-viral video with no advertising budget behind it. Producing pieces that not only the fans like but also the players, makes the job more rewarding.

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