Sony Ericsson recruits tennis stars for digital campaign

Sony Ericsson has recruited six female tennis players to star in a web TV series and social media campaign to promote its sponsorship of the women's tennis tour ahead of the Miami Open.

Maria Sharapova: launches Xperia Hot Shots online video
Maria Sharapova: launches Xperia Hot Shots online video

Launched yesterday evening, the Hotshots Facebook page and YouTube channel will follow the lives of six up-and-coming women players – Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA), Heather Watson (UK), Alize Cornet (France), Sabine Lisicki (Germany), Sorana Cirstea (Romania) and Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) – as they compete in the women's tour.

The activity was lanched in Miami and featured a 36ft-tall Facebook page, in front of which Maria Sharapova and the six chosen players were revealed to the crowd.

The six will be set challenges by a shadowy character called Mr Sony Ericsson, in videos posted on the channel and Facebook. In September followers will be able to vote for their favourite contestant, who will receive €100,000.

The Creative was developed by Stephan Croix, head of global marketing partnerships for Sony Ericsson, and executed by Iris. Monkey filmed the sequences and Pretty Green, with Iris, developed the social media activity.

Croix said: "'Xperia Hot Shots' is an exciting and innovative web TV show that will bring added entertainment to women's tennis. It provides fans with the chance to get closer to WTA players and celebrities, and see them take part in unusual challenges and amazing stunts, all of which they can watch on their Xperia smartphones."

The campaign has been designed to tap into social networking. The players were chosen for their "desire to connect with fans on social media."

Sony Ericsson is pushing into developing CRM programmes with its users and is likely to make further use of social media, and has hired Acxiom and agency TMW to put plans into effect.

The handset manufacturer has already designated the Miami Open as the first "fully integrated Foursquare sporting event", again encouraging spectators and others to engage using social media.

Sony Ericsson is about to launch a series of three new smartphones that the company hopes will revive its fortunes – the Xperia arc and neo have strong visual processing and replay features, while the PLAY is the much-anticipated PlayStation gaming smartphone.