28-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency
Day 28, August 4 - Media Chair Arne Madsen Calls for More Networking and Cooperation
“If you incorporate media, marketing and promotion in all decisions, you will have better results.”
What drew you into the sport?
I was a player – not at the highest level, but I did beat Mikael Andersson when he was the coach of the national team in Denmark.
Suddenly, during my studies, I became a member of the Danish Board, then president, then member of the Executive Board of the NOC in Denmark. I was responsible for media and TV. I was the press officer in the Danish TTA and a member, then Chairman, of the ITTF Media Committee.
In high school and during my university studies I worked as a freelance journalist and have since then been very much interested in media matters. I am a lawyer. In my opinion, my professional and volunteer jobs have fit together quite well.
As the Chair of the Media Committee, you have noted that the terms of reference for the Committee state: "advise on all media matters and in all matters including promotion and marketing, that have an influence on the coverage of table tennis across the full media spectrum." Can you comment on how that has impacted your involvement?
I think, it was a very wise decision to extend the tasks to include promotion and marketing matters. Media, marketing and promotion are integrated parts and, if you are clever and lucky, and incorporate media, marketing and promotion in all decisions, you will have better results. We have now based all the media, promotions and marketing matters in the office in Singapore. All of the staff there are working extremely hard in a dynamic and innovative way under the leadership of Steve Dainton. Thanks to them, we have reached new records on our website, YouTube, and all the social media.
There have also been some new ideas. The Star Awards show that debuted in 2014 will hopefully become a yearly event. There were awards given for the Best Trick Shot and the Best Rally. We now have more interaction with fans. And then there’s the Ibrahim Hamato "Nothing Is Impossible" video. All are steps to integrate in this new direction.
With the new push to be in the TOP 5 IN ALL WE DO, where do you see things heading?
We have 220 associations in the ITTF. There are big differences in size, in human and economic resources, and in experience. We need to reduce the gap between the associations and the continents and network and cooperate much more.
We do not have appointed or employed people for media, marketing and promotion in more than 50% of our associations. In the ideal world, we would have media/promotion and marketing managers in all continents and associations, who could network and co-operate.
The income from the Marketing division is fundamental for Development activities. It is essential to increase the ITTF’s revenues. To do this, we have to refine our events so that they become top-level events with more social gatherings. To increase the income from marketing, the ITTF needs to make some difficult decisions in the future. Events will need to be focused more on the time schedule. For example, play important matches when the potential spectators are not working. The presentation and look of the center court could still use improvement.
Another possibility might be to play the different stages of a tournament at different places. Maybe have regional or continental matches at the first and second stages, then have a final stage later at another place. We are approaching a crossroads if we want to develop our events in a more modern marketing/promotion/media-oriented way. We have to redefine which events are our flagship and top events also from a marketing point-of-view and which events shall focus more on promotion and participation.
The ITTF has accumulated amazing stats in regard to our website popularity. What steps are being taken to lift up our #17 ranking with regard to print media?
With the invention of the Internet, the media world changed dramatically. We have to serve the media in another way than before. The print media are not present at our events in the same numbers as before. Therefore, during the last World Championships, we offered previews, reviews, TV news edits, the “Shot of the Day,” the “Moment of the Day,” and uploaded interviews with players.
The ranking of #17 from the last Olympics will improve in Rio. The national media from the participating countries are more familiar with our sport, and I am sure that will result in our ranking better in that field in Rio. Challenges keep you alive. This is one in which you have a big competition with the other sports.
What have been Adham Sharara's main contributions, in your opinion, in the areas of media, promotion and marketing?
In the 1990s, some media called Table Tennis a dying sport. Adham has played the leading role in transforming the ITTF into a modern sport.
From a media/marketing/promotion perspective, these are the biggest areas of progress:
Table Tennis is much more attractive to the media, sponsors and spectators since the scoring changed from 21 to 11 points.
The development of www.ITTF.com and itTV have given the opportunity to all fans over the world to follow the events.
The marketing revenues have grown almost 20-fold since Adham Sharara was elected ITTF President.
Thank you, Arne, for this explanation about the integration of the ITTF’s media, promotion and marketing strategies.