Fred Perry targets 'working class' kids with table tennis sponsorship

Darius Knight: Olympic table tennis hopeful is sponsored by Fred Perry
Darius Knight: Olympic table tennis hopeful is sponsored by Fred Perry

Clothing brand Fred Perry is bolstering its ties with grassroots table tennis as part of its strategy of staying true to its brand heritage.

The brand is targeting working class youngsters with its sponsorship of the Urban Cup table tennis tournament, which came about due to brand founder Perry being a table tennis champion before going on to win the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Richard Martin, Fred Perry marketing director, told Marketing: "The aim from day one was to engage with kids from traditionally working class areas. Fred Perry was a working class guy. That's where he came from – he was the son of a factory worker based in Stockport."

The brand is hoping to reach 120,000 kids with the tournament this year, which culminates with the final on 3 December.

The tournament was set up in 2007 in association with the English Table Tennis Association (ETTA) and its popularity resulted in the Premier League 4 Sport partnering with the project in 2010.

The Premier League 4 Sport works with the 20 Premier League football clubs to get them engaged with a variety of sports in their local areas.

To date, Fred Perry has invested around £300,000 in its sponsorship, which includes sponsorship of Olympic hopeful Darius Knight. Fred Perry’s current investment in the sport stands at a six-figure sum, but this could be set to increase.

Martin said: "The desire is to engage more kids to get involved, which will require an increase in investment – we are looking for 5% to 10% more engagement this year."

The Urban Cup reaches out to youngsters via the 20 Premier League clubs, who are involved in sporting initiatives with around six local schools each. 

Kids are encouraged to get involved with the sport through workshops and open days in schools, notices in football club's match day programmes and websites, Facebook activity and local advertising.

Martin revealed that the brand will steer clear in getting involved with marketing activity around the Olympics, because it is not a core sportswear brand.

He said: "My main concern is, how do we access it and leverage it? The truth is we won't really touch it because the concern is getting lost in all the other activity."

Follow Matthew Chapman on Twitter @mattchapmanuk

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