3rd July 2019
Jemma Magrath, Senior Account Executive in Grayling’s Consumer team, explores one of the UK’s most famous queues and its relationship with brand sponsorship.
With Britain’s favourite tennis championship starting play this week, fans will be queueing in the early hours each morning hoping to obtain a coveted ticket into the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club grounds. The Queue is so infamous that the name is capitalised, it has its own handbook, set of rules and a Twitter hashtag.
The set-up is well known: you are issued with your queue card on arrival, you pitch your tent, go to sleep and a steward wakes you up at 6am the next morning for when the ‘real’ queuing begins. Each year there are numerous articles published on this tradition, advising visitors on the correct etiquette and the best insider tips. It’s become an integral part of the fan experience.
But for a queue that started winding on the streets outside of the gates as long ago as 1922, it has advanced over the years to become not only a far more regulated process, but one that has allowed brands to market to a very captive audience. After all, who better to target than those people standing still and craving a form of entertainment in order to pass the time?
The All England Club does not allow large advertising of its sponsors within the grounds, apart from limited corporate branding such as IBM logos on the scoreboards, Rolex clocks or Slazenger tennis balls, and over the years brands have therefore had to look for new ways to market to the fans. The Queue presented a perfect opportunity for this.
As avid Wimbledon fans will know, The Queue is really divided into two sections: the first in the main field where you have camped is divided into long orderly lines, and the second, which is in tighter formation and weaves along the perimeter of the field. This second section is where brands are presented with their opportunity, and where the real fun of The Queue begins.
As you edge closer to the entrance gates, sponsors of the Championship are set up with their own areas alongside you, offering entertainment and refreshment as you wait. The usual suspects will be there – Evian and Robinsons usually both giving out free samples and Lavazza offering a caffeine hit and chance to try out their new machines or flavours from their coffee bar (which after a fair few hours of queueing is very welcome). Although these are great ways for brands to get product in hand, I do think these sponsors could be doing more to really engage this captive audience. Could they run mini competitions in The Queue around who can name the most tennis players in a certain time, who can do the most tennis ball headers - creating content for owned channels and that can be shared by fans on social media?
One of the best brands to take advantage of this has got to be HSBC with their mini Wimbledon court; inviting fans to a game of tennis while they wait and giving them an activity to engage in and a chance to move around after hours of standing. Plus if you are lucky, you may even be queuing at the right time for surprise guest appearances as I was – rallying again Tim Henman is something I’ll never forget!
So next time you are standing in a queue, whether it’s The Queue, or waiting in line for store openings, concert tickets, restaurants, think about what your brand could be doing to interact with this audience and how you can provide them with a memorable queue experience. What can you do that engages them more effectively than distributing a leaflet or free product? The ball is in your court.
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