With the start of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, a lot of shade has once again been thrown Caroline Woznaicki’s way, this time by the local press who apparently are unimpressed with her either winning Indian Wells last week or still being No. 1. But while “Woz” continued to be even more defiant than ever in defending her top ranking, the WTA itself launched a new web-series campaign to not only help shine the spotlight on some of its young rising players but to also, they hope, create the next WTA star.
The Xperia Hot Shots campaign was launched in January at the Australian Open with its host, Maria Sharapova, promising an inside look at the lives of five WTA players like we’ve never seen before. A mix between the hit TV reality series “America’s Top Model” and the short-lived “Popstars” that formed an all-girl singing group that fell apart soon after their first record was released, “Hot Shots” plans to keep track of the on-court and off-court activities of Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA), Heather Watson (UK), Alize Cornet (France), Sabine Lisicki (Germany), Sorana Cirstea (Romania) and Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia) while at the same time asking fans to vote for their favorite player in the series who at the end of the season will receive a “Sony Ericsson Support Package”.
With its “Charlie’s Angels” inspired trailer and slick promos, it’s still a tad early to decide how this latest marketing effort from the WTA and one of its biggest and longest sponsors will pan out. Sony Ericsson’s Xperia phone is one of the company’s first to use the Android software in a bid to recapture some market share in the super-competitive mobile phone market. In fact, Sony Ericsson’s market share has lagged behind its larger rivals for so long that some in the industry wonder if the company will survive in the long-term. In the short term, it’s hard to see if the “Hotshots” campaign will boost sales for Sony Ericsson at all, especially since so many tennis fans already use either an iPhone or an Android phone from another company.
Cell phone sales aside, the real question is will any of the “Hot Shots” break out of the pack and become the next big WTA star, solely based on their participation? Although the whole series should be fun to watch and boost the profile and awareness of each woman especially among hardcore WTA fans, it probably will still take one of them being more consistent in the wins column over the rest of the season rather than how many “tweets” they send out to their fans that will be the final factor in determining their potential future “star status”.
But for now, let’s hope that we are treated to more wacky scenes like that of Cirstea and Cornet literally dropping their racquets to answer the phone or, what I really hope for, a chance to view “Maria Mail” as Sharapova explains the next assignment to the girls. If anyone could take over the role of “Charlie” and add their own unique spin to it, it would be “Masha” herself.