What: Sporting goods FILA recently increased its South American presence with a partnership with the Argentine Tennis Association (AAT) and sponsorship of Buenos Aires native Diego Schwartzman.
Why it matters: FILA hasn’t been as aggressive in Latin America as other sporting goods retailers, but the grassroots elements of the AAT sponsorship signals it may be looking to gain a greater foothold there.
FILA (@FilaTennis), which has a strong presence in the sport of tennis and an increasing one in Latin America, made one of its biggest pushes there last week, announcing a wide-ranging partnership with the Argentine Tennis Association (Asociación Argentina de Tenis/AAT) (@AATenis) that includes outfitting of its Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams as well as junior and developmental programs in the nation.
The announcement, which came right before Argentina, the 2016 Davis Cup champion, defeated Colombia this past weekend, follows the company’s sponsorship of Buenos Aires native Diego Schwartzman (@dieschwartzman), who has risen to No. 14 in the ATP world rankings.
Lauren Mallon, FILA Director of Marketing, Strategic Partnerships, took some time to discuss both of these marketing efforts in an interview with Portada this week.
Portada: Why is South America and the Latin market important for FILA?
Lauren Mallon: These markets are extremely important for FILA, we have a strong international presence both in South America and Mexico. Our sponsorship of numerous tournaments in these regions as the Official Footwear and Apparel provider give us the opportunity to further the reach of our brand and positively influence in the sport of tennis. With high-performing athletes such as Diego Schwartzman, it is important for us to maintain and build on our presence in Latin American communities.
Portada: Why did you choose to sponsor the Asociación Argentina de Tenis (AAT) and Diego Schwartzman? And are there other Latin players you are working with?
LM: FILA and the AAT share a common goal of promoting the game of tennis and providing players of all ages the chance to succeed in the sport. The work the AAT is doing to build tennis within Argentina, especially through a focus on youth development in the sport, is something FILA is proud to support.
FILA sponsors both international tennis athletes and tournaments, making this relationship with the AAT a natural one. FILA is currently a sponsor of the Argentina Open, Brasil + Rio Open and the Los Cabos Open in Mexico. In addition to Schwartzman, FILA sponsors Argentine athletes Horacio Zeballos and Máximo González.
Portada: FILA is known as a brand in many ways fashioned by Bjorn Borg in the 70’s and 80’s. How have you seen style change over the last few decades and how do you blend that with the performance needed by athletes today?
LM: We continue to be inspired by our classic FILA designs and silhouettes and aim to reinvent many of the styles that got us our start in the sport by putting modern twists on some of our most successful, iconic pieces.
New technologies have really driven the shift in performance tennis gear over the last few decades. Comfortability, breathability and lightweight gear have become the standard and at FILA. We create our products with this in mind – from our lightweight performance tennis shoe, the Axilus Energized to our moisture wicking shirts, shorts and socks – athlete performance is always at the forefront of our ingenuity.
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Portada: How will FILA determine the success of its sponsorship of the Argentine Davis Cup team? What are some of the goals?
LM: Sponsoring the Argentine Davis Cup team presents is a great opportunity to reach fans in Argentina and strengthens FILA’s position in the entire region. There is great pride that surrounds the national team, and the sky blue and white colors of the uniforms were designed to honor the country’s flag.
In addition, the collection as a whole is a special performance product, inspired by FILA’s tennis heritage and classic design. Seeing a new wave of interest in tennis in the country is a goal of both the AAT and FILA. Outfitting and supporting the national Davis Cup team, as well as sponsoring outstanding and inspiring Argentine athletes like Diego Schwartzman, is certainly a step in that direction.
Cover Image: Diego Schwartzman, courtesy FILA