Tennis Australia handles the PR and social media promotion for the Laver Cup regardless of which continent the event is played. We thoroughly enjoyed working for them at a promotional event in Manhattan during the summer of 2017. Thankfully they asked us back and invited us to take part in a stunt, this time in Chicago, to encourage North American ticket sales in 2018.
The piece and the day itself went through numerous revisions in the weeks prior as celebrities and locations were added to the itinerary. The final script called for Tried & True to provide a production crew consisting of five camera operators and two field audio technicians. With enough advance warning, I put together a staff of talented professionals who had all filmed social media videos about Roger at other tournaments. From the Red Sox, Billie Weiss and Lauren Foley were brought on. Direct from Indian Wells, Ian Davidson and myself flew in. Mark Reidy from Tennis Australia, Joe Miller and Dustin Berta rounded out the team.
Roger Federer’s agency, Team8, with the USTA and TA is a partial owner in The Laver Cup. They are pursuing a marketing strategy using Roger as a primary draw for fans. When we filmed this video, Roger was still the number one player in the world and was still fresh off an 18 match winning streak for 2018.
Using Roger to amplify the video worked very well. For example, The Laver Cup’s Facebook page reached 60,000 views. But Roger posting the video natively to his Facebook profile meant that we achieved the maximum possible audience. Without an ad buy, Roger’s celebrity was a strong enough generator of earned media to achieve nearly 500,000 views on Facebook, over 600,000 views on Instagram and over 200,000 views through Twitter.
Interest was further amplified by the inclusion of 1990s NBA all-star Scottie Pippen and the international superstar soccer player, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Bastian is married to a retired female tennis player, Ana Ivanovic. They live in Chicago and have a strong social media presence. Scottie made for a good representative to lead Roger through The United Center where the Laver Cup will be played. Mike Tirico is notable to American audiences as he is fresh off of anchoring his first Olympics as NBC’s replacement for Bob Costas. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently perhaps America’s best-known mayor, having served as a pugnacious congressman from Illinois and later President Obama’s Chief-of-Staff.
We had one day of location scouting and then four hours with Roger, John McEnroe, Rod Laver and Nick Kyrgios. We were fighting Chicago traffic and a tight schedule that allotted ten to fifteen minutes per stop. We shot very run-and-gun. There was no time for rehearsal with the talent. The crew reviewed the script carefully and were prepared to film enough to satisfy the requirements for each scene. We split into two teams with an operator shooting telephoto and others running gimbals. We received a permit from the city to fly a drone above the stunt at the Bean too. Tried & True used GoPro Hero6s in the cars in addition to DSLRs and Westcott Ice Lights to provide even lighting on the faces of multiple generations of tennis players. GoPros were attached to the headrests of the front seats. The ice lights were taped with gaffers tape between those two seats too. Ice lights are a great LED long-running option to provide soft, continuous lighting.
We filmed Roger’s plane landing at Midway Airport and his departure with McEnroe in a Laver Cup branded Mercedes SUV. Lou Malnati’s is a chain of iconic Chicago pizzerias. We captured the four generations of professional tennis players chatting and eating. We stopped by the Chicago Theater with the pretty interior and iconic marquee and swung by the United Center as mentioned above. The Bean stunt went off without a hitch thanks to the efforts of MVT PR. Members of the media were present as were tennis fans, security was in place and the black Laver Court looked perfect in front of the Bean. Kyrgios and Roger definitely had fun with their hit and giggle in front of the crowd. Afterward we proceeded to a rooftop photoshoot and then a press conference.
We covered the press conference with six angles and immediately produced a VNR for international media consisting of the best broll and soundbites. The edit of the social media piece went well. It took one day to organize data from ten camera sources and two audio techs. The next day was spent listening to the material to find the best bites. Prue Ryan of Tennis Australia and Kellie Morgan, the producer on the piece, were instrumental in the scripting and vision for the deliverable. The video production team departed after the shoot. Editing and revisions were completed remotely, but the piece was finished by deadline. Tickets went on sale and hundreds of thousands of tennis fans saw the promo. The Instagram video was completed at a 4:5 ratio, meaning that it is taller than it is wide. As a result, the piece took up more room in an Instagram feed. The fact that this version of the video was optimized for phone consumption is partially why the content overall performed the best on Instagram.
All 3-day ticket bundles under $2500.00 for the three-day Laver Cup event sold out two days after the release of the video. Again, we extend our thanks to Tennis Australia for tapping us to cover another Laver Cup event.