The Sony Open – tennis’ fifth grand slam – has hosted the sport’s greatest players of the past 25 years, from Chris Evert and Andre Agassi, to Roger Federer and Serena Williams. The Tournament has become one of Miami’s most anticipated annual sporting events and a catalyst for the city’s growing international brand.
In 2012, Tournament owner IMG launched a County-wide campaign to galvanize support for a ballot measure that would ensure the event stays in Miami for the long-term by enabling privately-funded upgrades to the Crandon Park Tennis Center.
Convincing two-thirds of the voting public to agree on anything is no easy task. Doing so in a diverse, multilingual community like Miami – one where only a fraction of residents actually attend the Tournament each year – is even more of a challenge.
Once voters decided how to vote, they were tasked with finding the question on the last page of a 10-page ballot. The measure faced an uphill battle from the start.
• Cultivate widespread public support for the November 2012 referendum in Miami-Dade County — with the goal of securing affirmative votes from two-thirds of the electorate.
Strategy and Results
We gave the campaign a jumpstart in the election cycle by taking our message to the public as soon as the referendum was placed on the November ballot.
From there, we drove the conversation surrounding the item with targeted storylines focused on the Tournament’s economic impact, its role in shaping Miami’s global brand, and its popularity in countries outside the US.
Interviews were secured on every major Spanish talk radio station (WQBA, Radio Mambi, Actualidad, and Caracol) and favorable stories were secured on local affiliates of Fox, CBS, ABC, and Univision.Simultaneously, Tournament leadership met face to face with influential community and business groups.
The campaign utilized favorable op-eds and letters to the editor from community leaders, hitting every major consumer daily multiple times. The Miami Herald endorsed the itemfollowing an editorial board meeting we arranged. With an endorsement secured, we put our positive messages and the editorial feature in front of thousands of Miami-Dade voters, business and civic leaders, and key community groups in the week prior to the election via a customized marketing email and ongoing social media promotion.
In the end, the referendum garnered 72.6% of the County-wide vote on Election Day, eclipsing the required 66.6% threshold required for passage. All told, more than 525,000 people cast YES votes.
Our campaign was featured in the February 2013 issue of PR WEEK magazine. You can read the full story here.