After the Australian Open (AO) beat attendance records this year with more than one million fans coming through the gates, Melbourne-based marketing and creative agency Underscore has hailed the unsung heroes who shared their own shots around the net to increase exposure for the event and Tennis Australia.
For the second year running, Tennis Australia engaged Underscore's specialised influencer marketing division to promote the Grand Slam tournament, United Cup, Internationals, and The Australian Open’s Finals Festival, the latter incidentally run by the agency's parent company Untitled Group.
Underscore has described the campaign results as "staggering", delivering a reach of more than 55 million and counting after collaborating with more than 500 influencers who generated more than 2,700 pieces of content.
"We wanted to 'hit different' with our influencer strategy this past summer and the dream team that is Elise Brando, Melanie Bowman and Matt Gardener curated a strategy that was fit for purpose for our audience needs and delivered at such scale with ease," says Tennis Australia's head of event brand marketing, Brittany Wickes.
"To say our marketing team didn’t have to lift a finger is not an exaggeration."
Elise Brando, Underscore's head of influencer and creator marketing, says the 55 million reach is calculated by collecting and analysing back-end insights and results from the agency's talent, in addition to other relevant statistics.
She highlights influencers who collaborated on the campaign include Michael Brunelli, Maria Thattil, Morgan Hipworth, Ella Ding, Hannah Dal Sasso, Mia Fevola, Coco Deville, Lachie Mac, Sam Wood, Christian Petracca, 100% That Tim, Maddy Macrae and Alright Hey.
"Our ultimate goal within all campaigns was to encourage people to purchase tickets to the AO, Finals Festival, United Cup and Internationals and also educate audiences around United Cup and Internationals specifically," Brando says.
Underscore's founder and managing partner Matt Gardener says Tennis Australia put their trust in the agency's ambition and allowed the team to "deliver something exceptional". These efforts included a paid and contra campaign and boosting certain creators' content to gain bulk awareness and create quality content around the events, flooding news feeds across the country.
"Since the get-go, our partnership with Tennis Australia has been one of shared ambition and collaboration," says Gardener, whose agency has previously worked with brands including Vans, Live Nation, Sony Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sportsgirl, Cotton On, The Daily Aus and Untitled Group.
"After delivering some great results for our engagement on Finals Festival last year, we wanted to go bigger with our 2024 engagement across all events, and deliver a world-class mass scale influencer marketing campaign."
Enlisting 500 influencers may sound like a lot, but Underscore now has a database comprising 12,000 TikTok and Instagram influencers and creators.
The company, with its expertise in influencer marketing trends and innovations, continues to be supplemented by deep relationships with the influencers Underscore has worked with over many years.
The agency claims this gives it "unparalleled cultural leverage".
"We’re observing that more brands are letting the creators create in a way that's natural to them and their channels, proving that authenticity is key which has always been our philosophy as an agency," Brando explains.
"I’m also noticing an increase in brands engaging specialised influencer marketing agencies as they would prefer to engage a team who are experts in the field to get the best results and best creative outcomes in influencer partnerships.
"Our model as a specialised business unit allows us to stay more broadly in touch with cross culture and category trends and we can leverage learnings from the campaigns we run across everything we do, because we work at such a large scale and ensure we always have time to reflect on our campaigns and make them better year on year, which is exactly what we’ve done with Tennis Australia."
On the topic of influencer marketing, late last year the consumer watchdog issued a warning that influencers must clearly disclose promotional posts in a way that is "immediately obvious to consumers", including when they have received free products. A survey by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found 81 per cent of influencers have made posts that raise concerns under the Australian Consumer Law for potentially misleading advertising.
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