Lever 2000 Signs As Lead Sponsor For US Open Series

May 15, 2006 02:10 PM

Lever 2000 Becomes Presenting Sponsor of US Open Series Telecasts on CBS & ESPN and Sponsor of all Ten US Open Series Tournaments and the US Open

US Open Series Doubles Television Viewership, Increases Attendance and Generates New Corporate Partners for the Sport

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 15, 2006 – The USTA today announced that Lever 2000, a leading personal care brand, has signed as the lead sponsor of the US Open Series. In its first sports sponsorship, Lever 2000 will become the presenting sponsor of all US Open Series telecasts on CBS & ESPN and an official sponsor of all ten US Open Series tournaments. Since its inception in 2004, the six-week US Open Series has doubled television viewership and increased attendance, while generating new corporate partnerships for the sport. Other US Open Series sponsors include American Express, MassMutual Financial Group and Olympus.

As part of the landmark partnership, the US Open Series Bonus Challenge, which tracks the weekly standings of players in the race to qualify for double prize money at the US Open, will be renamed the “US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge.” Last year, Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open Series and the US Open, earned $2.2 million dollars at the US Open, the largest purse in women’s sports history.

In addition, Lever 2000 will use the US Open Series as its national platform to promote Lever 2000 products throughout the summer. Lever 2000 will be prominently featured on-site at each tournament, including branded corner boards and player chairs in each stadium. Lever 2000 will be integrated into all US Open Series broadcasts via graphics, billboards and advertising vignettes for each telecast, and will activate its sponsorship with national US Open consumer sweepstakes supported through a national print advertising campaign in consumer magazines.

“This new partnership with Unilever represents another milestone for the US Open Series and a new category of sponsorship for the sport.” said Arlen Kantarian, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “This further validates that the US Open Series concept of packaging a summer season of tournaments linked to the US Open, is generating new enthusiasm and bringing new broadcasters and sponsors to the sport.”

“We are thrilled to be teaming up with such a well-known brand as Lever 2000 and introducing a new sponsor to tennis,” said Pierce O’Neil, Chief Business Officer, USTA. “Lever 2000 will be positioned as the presenting sponsor of all US Open Series telecasts, and be prominently featured on-site at all US Open Series events. We look forward to working with Unilever to extend Lever 2000’s association with the USOS into retail outlets throughout the country.”

“Lever 2000 consumers lead active lifestyles, and for many that includes enjoying the sport of tennis, both as players and spectators,” said Rob Master, Marketing Director, Lever 2000. “We’re proud to support tennis through our sponsorship of the US Open Series and to encourage people to get active through this fun and exciting sport, no matter what their age or ability.”

In addition to the US Open Series, Lever 2000 also will become a promotional partner of the US Open, the world’s highest-attended sporting event. Lever 2000 will have a presence at the USTA National Tennis Center including a fan booth for interactive fan promotions, a Lever 2000 Day at the US Open and signage in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The US Open Series brings together the ten summer tournaments in North America, three television networks, tennis’ sanctioning bodies and top corporate sponsors during the summer tennis season. Since its launch in 2004, The US Open Series has doubled television viewership of tennis, increased total event attendance and contributed to the growing popularity of the sport. In 2005, the US Open Series added a number of enhancements to the sport, including more national TV hours, live back-to-back Finals every Sunday, double prize money at the US Open, new court colors, and a significant national marketing campaign.

The Series impact on the sport has been as follows:

Lever 2000 also becomes an official sponsor of USTA League Tennis, the world’s largest recreational tennis league. In 2005, 585,000 people participated in the program that was played across the entire United States, in all 17 USTA Sections. USTA League Tennis offers recreational players the opportunity to get a great workout, improve their skills, have fun, and compete for a National Championship.

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Unilever [NYSE:UL, UN], one of the world’s largest consumer products companies, aims to add vitality to life by meeting everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care. Each day, around-the-world, consumers make 150 million decisions to purchase Unilever products. The company has a portfolio of brands that make people feel good and get more out of life. In the United Sates these brands include recognized names such as Axe, “all,” Ben & Jerry’s, Bertolli, Breyers, Caress, Country Crock, Degree, Dove personal card products, Eternity by Calvin Klein, Hellmann’s , Lipton, Knorr, Popsicle, Promise, Q-Tips, Skippy, Slim-Fast, Snuggle, Suave and Vaseline. All of the preceding brand names are registered trademarks of Unilever. Dedicated to serving consumers and the communities where we live, work and play, Unilever in the United States employs more than 15,000 people in 74 office and manufacturing sites in 24 states and Puerto Rico – generating approximately $10 billion in sales in 2004. For more information visit www.unilever.com.

The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level - - from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. It owns and operates the US Open, the largest annually attended sporting event in the world, and launched the US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games. A not-for-profit organization with 675,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.