Rakuten, the Global Presenting Partner and Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner of the Davis Cup by Rakuten, launched an innovative way for fans to creatively cheer for their teams and players throughout the tournament Finals from 25th November – 5th December 2021. Rakuten’s fan-engagement initiatives have a strong focus on optimism and empowerment and continually provide sports fans with opportunities to stay connected with their favourite teams. As the World Cup of Tennis, the Davis Cup gives Rakuten the opportunity to engage with tennis fans across the world.
Creatively cheer for your country with Rakuten
‘The Davis Cup Fan World Cup Presented by Rakuten’ invited fans from the 18 competing countries at the Finals to submit messages of support for their team via an online portal – https://rakutenfans.com – anytime between 25th November and 5th December. Click here to access the press release.
The Davis Cup Finals featured 18 teams: Australia, Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden and USA (12 qualifying countries); Spain, Canada, Great Britain and the Russian Tennis Federation (the four semi-finalists from the previous year’s tournament); France and Serbia (wild-card nations).
Presenting unique tennis-themed art installations across Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin
The messages from fans are being printed onto individual tennis balls and canvas, which will be used to create 19 unique art installations: one for each Finalist team, and one grand installation that pays tribute to tennis fans across the world for their unwavering support of the sport, especially during these challenging times.
The messages from fans breathe life into these unique tennis-themed artwork installations, which feature montages of thrilling on-court moments leading up to the Finals. While 18 installations will be on prominent display at the three finals sites – the Madrid Arena in Madrid; Olympiahalle in Innsbruck and Pala Alpitour in Turin – one grand installation that pays tribute to fans will additionally be displayed in Madrid.
Fans had the opportunity to continue sending messages of support, to be included in the 19th installation, even during the final week of the tournament – both through the website and also at the Rakuten Fan Zone in the Madrid Arena.
The installations, measuring 5m x 2.5m (for each team installation) and 10m x 2.5m (for the fan tribute), is on display from 25th November 2021. Rakuten believes that these installations are a testimony to fans’ respect for their countries and passion for the sport, and will be a meaningful part of the Davis Cup Finals, reminding fans that their support ultimately powers the game. Rakuten’s innovative, proactive support of the Davis Cup also extends to the introduction of the Rakuten Optimism Award for the Most Inspiring Team, which is voted for exclusively on the dedicated Davis Cup Viber Community.
Quote from Davis Cup Tournament Director
This innovative, grass roots fan activation is exactly the sort of initiative we embrace. Bringing tennis fans from around the world together and actively celebrating and highlighting their support is the goal. We are delighted to be incorporating the technology and creativity of our major partner Rakuten to facilitate a holistic enhancement of the fan experience of the tournament, both physically at the venues; and virtually.Fernando Verdasco, Davis Cup Tournament Director
Quote from Director of Global Marketing and Sports Partnership at Rakuten
The Davis Cup has a rich history and championship culture that brings together iconic legends, contemporary heroes and future stars of the game. It has evolved this year to go to three exciting cities in Europe with Rakuten leveraging its core services and seamlessly integrating them into the fan-engagement journey to make the Davis Cup experience more special for fans. For example, while Rakuten Pay enables quick and convenient purchases of souvenirs and concessions at the stadiums, users also gain valuable Rakuten Points to spend in Rakuten marketplaces. A dedicated community channel on the free call and messaging service Rakuten Viber allows fans across the globe to stay connected with the tournament. Fans can learn more about the world’s biggest international team competition in tennis by watching the documentary – ‘Break Point: A Davis Cup Story’ on Rakuten TV’s AVOD service.
We are proud to be associated with a legendary international tournament like the Davis Cup that gives us the opportunity to engage with sports fans across the world who ultimately are the driving force behind the sport. Our latest innovative fan-based initiative displays messages from fans across the world in support of their national teams through 19 unique art installations in Madrid, Turin and Innsbruck. These tennis-themed digital installations showcased prominently in the stadiums will reinforce to fans that their voices of support are not only a powerful boost for players but for the entire Davis Cup.Rahul Kadavakolu, Director of Global Marketing and Sports Partnership at Rakuten
Why the Davis Cup by Rakuten might be one of the ultimate sponsorship opportunities in sports
The Davis Cup, which is popularly known as ‘The World Cup of Tennis,’ brings the best national representatives in the sport against each other. As athletes from across the world converge to battle it out for the ultimate prize, brands and sponsors who align themselves with such large-scale global sporting events have the opportunity to connect with a truly international audience. Since many of the participating countries are Rakuten’s key markets, the Davis Cup partnership gives Rakuten the opportunity to run global and local activations and share their brand story with a diverse audience.
How can brands and sponsors make international fans feel like a part of a big tournament
The notion of international tournaments is always one of excitement with everyone watching to see which team will be crowned world champions. Winning as a team is a central thought for Rakuten. It’s part of our DNA which is why Rakuten is proud to be associated with the Davis Cup – the world’s biggest international team competition in tennis. As seen at recent championships held in Europe, the format of hosting a tournament across multiple countries and regions allows for a sense of unification, with people of many nationalities enjoying an experience together. Communicating to a global audience and giving them platforms to connect with their teams is paramount to maximising the reach of the tournament and orchestrating the optimism and positive energy surrounding it.
Quickfire Q&A with Rakuten’s Rita Chia, project manager for the Davis Cup by Rakuten sponsorship:
What inspired Rakuten to produce these installations?
In 2019, when Rakuten first presented the Davis Cup, we were awestruck by the passion with which tennis fans cheer for their countries! They came for the matches dressed in national colors, carrying flags, playing musical instruments – the works! The atmosphere created by fans was nothing short of electrifying and their passion for the game really stood out. We could also see that this fan support inspired the national teams and boosted their performances.
In 2021, when Rakuten first began planning for activations for the Davis Cup sponsorship, we had to be mindful that, due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 situation, there could be restrictions for fans visiting the arena.
We wanted to find a way to allow fans from all over the world to support their teams in the venue, even if they could not travel and support their teams in person. Rakuten’s activations have a strong focus on optimism and empowerment, so we wanted to create these installations as a way to show the fans and teams that even if the fans could not be there in person physically, their voices could still be heard at the actual venues. So, in short – it was the fans who are the inspiration behind these installations. Fans all the way!
How is the experience of working on a large global sporting event like the Davis Cup?
So many words come to my mind – exciting, intense, eye-opening – but also at the same time, a very humbling experience due to the sheer magnitude and complexity of the behind-the-scenes operations, as well as an emotional one: witnessing the triumphs and trials of the teams and the stories of the players.
Do you foresee these exhibits becoming permanent installations in the future? How much will that rely on the community response to them?
Our fans continually inspire us to find innovative ways to connect with them. Due to logistical restrictions, the current installations will not be permanently installed at fixed locations. However, we are excited about seeing them come to life and showcasing many such fan-centric activations for future editions of the Davis Cup by Rakuten.
About the Davis Cup by Rakuten
Founded in 1900, Davis Cup by Rakuten has grown to become the largest annual world championship in sport, with 142 nations entered in 2021. The 2021 Finals will see the 2019 semi-finalists and two wild card nations joined by the 12 winning teams from the 2020 Qualifiers. Madrid will be the host city for the group stage, quarterfinals, semi-finals and final of this year edition, while Innsbruck (Austria) and Turin (Italy) will be host cities for the group stage and the quarter-finals.
About Rakuten Group, Inc.
Rakuten Group, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is a global leader in internet services that empower individuals, communities, businesses and society. Founded in Tokyo in 1997 as an online marketplace, Rakuten has expanded to offer services in e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications to approximately 1.5 billion members around the world. It is dedicated to empowering people and society through sports and is recognized worldwide for its association with FC Barcelona, the Golden State Warriors and the NBA, as well as for its ownership of the Japanese J.League professional soccer team Vissel Kobe and professional baseball team Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The company has also been the title sponsor of the ATP Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships since 2009.