02 Sep 2020

Looking ahead to the launch of World Table Tennis (WTT) in 2021, an informative webinar was hosted for all equipment manufacturers on Monday 31st August 2020.

In what was the first of its kind, the webinar presented the vision and mission of WTT to a large section of equipment manufacturers. The message was loud and clear: become involved and be part of the change.

Equipment manufacturers are very important stakeholders in the table tennis economy and it has been critical to work closely together with them in order to grow the sport’s fanbase.

“We have big plans to make WTT one of the strongest sports properties on earth. WTT’s new event products will offer more value to our commercial partners. We hope to attract modern, cool and fresh partners which suit our new image. This means that we need the support from our table tennis equipment community to help us grow WTT and drive the sport forward.” – Liu Guoliang, WTT Council Chair

Overall, everyone was very happy with the support and interest shown at the webinar, with representatives from 23 equipment manufacturers joining for the whole 70-minute duration of the meeting.

Steve Dainton, WTT Director and ITTF CEO, spoke about the origins of WTT and was also candid about the positive effect of this webinar:

“WTT will serve as a platform to allow us to grow our fanbase worldwide, to increase benefits for our stakeholders (players and member associations) and to make the sport more popular. Equipment manufacturers will, of course, be involved in this change, which really needs to be made in order to not lag behind other sports. Our idea is to improve equipment, improve visibility and invite the manufacturers to get involved.” – Steve Dainton, WTT Director & ITTF CEO

Matt Pound, WTT Director and ITTF Marketing Director, spoke at length about the key benefits of WTT, such as increased prize money, the new event structure, a separate women’s tour, player development programme, globally renowned partnerships, enhanced TV production and investment into a new social and digital strategy.

“Our mission is clear. We want to be one of the top sports in the world. That is our goal and our drive. We want for players to be in the mainstream media and to support our stars to grow into global personalities. The more fans we have, the more we can divert them to the equipment manufacturers, and with increased prize money we can position ourselves as a top sport. We want to tell a proper story about table tennis, the heroes and overall meaning about what fans are watching, to empower the consumers. We are partnering with top agencies and consultants, the likes of IMG, Philippe Le Floc’h, 160over90, Pumpjack Dataworks, Gemba and Superunion. We intend to be more digitally savvy in everything we do going forwards with an approach that builds through our data strategy.” – Matt Pound, WTT Director & ITTF Marketing Director

Stephen Duckitt, WTT Event Strategy Director, presented the new event structure and explained how the 2021 event calendar will be formed, as well as some event structural changes (composition, entry restrictions and ranking system). With an emphasis on staging events in iconic locations, focusing around one table and giving the men’s and women’s events their own special settings, the intention is to help elevate the level of the sport.

“We want to ensure that there will be a better spread, better visibility on the main table, telling the stories of the players and the stories of the season. We also want to make sure that the top players are competing in the top events, to raise the appeal of the events by getting these players in from day one, to increase prize money, enable greater ranking movement, have a better quality product which grows our engagement with the fans. We are looking into player activation events, leveraging on player popularity to grow that relationship with the fans, and to unlock unique opportunities for commercial partners to promote their brand.” Stephen Duckitt, WTT Event Strategy Director

Kimberly Koh, WTT Head of Partnerships, stressed the importance of equipment partners in the overall table tennis ecosystem.

“Equipment manufacturers are amongst the most important partners for the ITTF and WTT. This webinar also presents the first Request for Proposal for equipment partners, the reason for which is the need to pivot and adapt to a new reality in this changing time to meet our goals and to discuss with brands as to how they can achieve their own goals, through greater transparency and openness.” – Kimberly Koh, WTT Head of Partnerships

The first proposal is to be submitted by 4th September 2020, after which WTT will discuss with those who submitted their proposals.

The evaluation criteria will involve past experience, what the brand thinks the partnership should be like and how they can affect other areas of the table tennis ecosystem.

WTT is also working on tailored partnership rights, far more innovative than in the past, with greater creativity in terms of activation with partners.

Claudia Herweg, ITTF Head of Equipment, provided an update on the approval process for equipment (tables and floors). The required information has already been sent to manufacturers, with the equipment team available to answer any questions.

The Request for Proposal phase 1 closes on 4th September. To receive a copy of the documents, please contact [email protected]