From three-stripe to five-stripe: The pre-2008 moving and shaking continues with SoCal sports outfitter K-Swiss announcing a three-year partnership with German Tommy Haas beginning at the 2008 Australian Open.
Tommy will wear K-Swiss threads for his matches and make personal appearances on behalf of the brand. He’ll also assist in the design of future athletic collections, a task he looks forward to. “I am obviously excited about the performance tennis styles,” says Haas, “but [am] also eager to collaborate on off court opportunities as well.”
And K-Swiss, of course, is just as excited. Erik Vervloet, Director of Sports Marketing, adds, “Tommy will be an invaluable asset in showcasing our current product offerings and developing future styles. We look forward to working closely with him and are proud to have him representing K-Swiss in the upcoming Grand Slams.”
No longer Limited: This is a big jump for Tommy, who had been wallowing (at least stylistically) in his partnership with Limited Sports in recent years (he was with Nike before that); Limited had provided him with a lackluster collection only made interesting by the occasional monogrammed cap. As he told Tennis Week, he moves to the big leagues with K-Swiss and is excited to be involved with the company:
“K-Swiss is making a big jump within the last year promoting the brand with a lot of the athletes, like Anna Kournikova, appearing in magazines and television commercials. K-Swiss is known for their shoes, which are very good ones. […] I got to look at the new K-Swiss stuff for next year, the new technology they’re using in their tennis shoes, which is all very exciting stuff so I’m very happy to be a part of it.”
And while it was he got on board too late to give feedback about the Spring 2008 line, Tommy will definitely give notes for future collections. He tells Tennis Week, “They’re interested in your ideas so if you have a favorite color or the kind of quality of material you like to wear, they try to incorporate that.”
Sleeveless scandal: This K-Swiss collection will include a sleeveless top (pictured above), a style which the German was instrumental in bringing to popular tennis consciousness. In a widely documented to-do at the 2002 U.S. Open, Tommy walked onto the court for his first round match in a sleeveless shirt. Court officials deemed the attire inappropriate per Grand Slam rules, so he was asked to change. (Mind you, this is the same year Serena played her matches in a catsuit. The outfit obtained the necessary approvals, so it was okay to wear on court.)
And at that point, for better or for worse, the sleeveless shirt began its appearance on the ATP Tour. (Read more on Tommy’s reaction to the situation.)
New ads, new agency: Also part of Tommy’s agreement will be to appear in a global K-Swiss ad campaign debuting in February. It’ll feature the company’s other sponsored athletes, and will make rounds on TV, in print, on the web, and outdoor venues. The company has tapped Toth Brand Imaging out of Cambridge, Mass., to handle the campaign.
Cross your fingers: Here’s hoping the switch works. K-Swiss suffered a third quarter earnings drop to $12.8 million on $107 million in revenue compared to earnings of $21 million on $133 million in revenue for the same quarter in 2006.
(photo via Tennis Week and Newscom; additional reporting via Adweek, Tennis Week)
>> anna kournikova’s k-swiss campaign
>> a glance at k-swiss’ print ads