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27-Day Countdown to Change in the ITTF's Presidency

By Sheri Cioroslan | Aug. 05, 2014, 7 a.m. (ET)

Day 27, August 5 - Christian Veronese Describes ITTF Marketing Strategies and Successes

“I’m proud to have been part of this team and projects for 15 years now.” 

Christian VeroneseHow did you get introduced to table tennis?

I started to play when I was 14 at the youth center in my neighborhood.  Later a player of an affiliated TT association asked me to join his team. I started in the lowest local division and later played in the first French league for more than 15 years against the best French players like Jacques Secretin, Patrick Birocheau, and Christian Martin.

Did any of the big TT stars from France in particular inspire you to commit yourself to the sport?

I had the privilege to be one of the French youth team coaches during Jean-Philippe Gatien’s generation.  I was responsible for the physical preparation of the juniors.  It was a great experience.

You spent two years in Lausanne at the beginning of Adham Sharara’s presidency.  What was it like in those days before the ITTF’s marketing success was firmly established?

It was really the beginning of the process for Adham to establish a team and a strategy in terms of marketing the ITTF events. For example, we started the cooperation with LIEBHERR at that time with the European Club League in 2001, and then with the European Championships in 2002. Beginning with the WTTC’s in Paris in 2003, the ITTF started its long cooperation with LIEBHERR. I’m very proud to have been part of the marketing success starting in Lausanne during the first 2 years of Adham’s ITTF presidency.

A major responsibility you had was in putting together the visual presentations to support pitches to sponsors.  What information/angle/statistics did sponsors find most compelling?

I started to edit a lot of documents to support the marketing strategy (marketing presentations, statistics, etc.). We tried to highlight the unique distinction of the sport on TV in terms of visibility for the sponsors. For that purpose, we asked a German company to provide us with all the data regarding the broadcast (sponsor visibility, broadcast time and duration and brand value for each sponsor within our sponsorship packages).

What was the driving force behind both you and Anders Thunström relocating TMS to Ottawa?

At this stage, in 2002, due to the development of TMS activities, it became important for the President to have his main staff located in the same place to be able to manage the marketing arm of the ITTF more closely.

How did your responsibilities evolve over time in your various positions: from Marketing Coordinator to Marketing Manager to Event Marketing Director?

At the very beginning, I was mainly assisting Anders by editing the documents we needed and starting the cooperation with different companies to analyze the broadcast of the world events.

Then, with the development of the Pro Tour/World Tour, I started to be responsible for implementing all of our duties regarding our sponsors during the ITTF events, i.e., implementation of the show courts/TV courts and all the printing material on site. I ordered whatever was needed, managed the printed materials and shipped all of the equipment to each venue. I was also the main contact for the TV production companies to implement the TV production at each site.

Then this responsibility was extended to all the ITTF world events. In addition, I continued to manage our cooperation with all the TV production companies to set up the TV production on site during the events.

Many associations are dreaming of achieving marketing success.  What is the best advice you can share to help them reach their objectives?

This is not easy due to the competition with all the other sports, but it looks to me that one of the key points is to fill in the stadium with spectators and to make sure that all the city is aware of the event (communication and promotion).  A sponsor who comes to a venue to watch matches alone in the tribune will never come again.  TV shots with empty bleachers work against the sport and the organizers.

What are the FACTS about TT that grab a sponsor’s attention?

Two main things: 1) visibility on the TV broadcast and 2) a connection with the image of the sport they can use in their marketing communication.

Are these the same facts that will help us attain TOP 5 IN ALL WE DO?

I do think the next 10 years will be dramatically different with the media. Advances in technology have enabled portable devices to remain connected to the Internet, which has given portable devices a huge advantage over TV. Even today, more and more of the younger generation do not watch TV at all at home.

We should not be too late in our approach to this.

I saw you sitting at your courtside “command center” all day long every day at the WTTC’s.  Could you explain what your functions are during the WTTC’s and how you fulfill them from your vantage point, using your laptop computer?

Well, when the event starts, much of the work is done. I work a lot before the event with the TV production team, our streaming partner for the itTV and with the organizing committees to implement the TV courts. Then, during the event, I check in real time the TV production and ask for whatever changes are needed, if any. At the same time, I follow the itTV streaming. I’m also the main contact for Eurosport during their live broadcasts to assist them in case of late matches.

Finally, if I can assume that many of the victories Adham experienced during his presidency, particularly related to marketing, were also your victories, can you share the sweetest successes?  

There have been a lot of successes. A major contract I can point to was the VW contract, which gave table tennis recognition within the sports world. But the most important one is definitely the LIEBHERR contract, which gave the ITTF the power to present the sport in a more professional way.  LIEBHERR has been the most loyal ITTF sponsor over the last 12 years.

Adham has always supported us at all times with pertinent advice.  He has been the key person in helping the ITTF get the best possible agreement with the companies.

I’m proud to have been part of this team and projects for 15 years now.  This awesome professional experience would never have been possible without Adham asking me to join the team in Ottawa in 2002.

Thanks a lot again to Adham.  He has been a great President for the sport and for all of us.