Mar 08, 2010 at 06:05 AM
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Sony Ericsson Drops WTA Title; Extends Sponsorship

Sony Ericsson has restructured its sponsorship with the WTA, under a new deal whereby Sony Ericsson will remain the Tour's lead sponsor, but not its title sponsor, through the 2012.

"It's a non-title deal, but they remain the tour's exclusive lead, global partner. No one will come in at a higher level than Sony Ericsson. That's our commitment to them," WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said on Sunday. "Sony Ericsson has been one of the best sponsors in the history of women's tennis -- and tennis in general," is reporting that the extension will run nearly 3 years at a fee of $27 million. According to SBJ, the company has shifted strategy since the initial deal and is looking for more on-site activation and social media assets, rather than straight brand exposure.

The mobile phone maker, which has struggled to compete with smartphone market share in the U.S., reported a net loss last year of $1.3 billion. Sony Ericsson recently moved U.S. headquarters from Miami to Atlanta and is planning for the release of a new line of smartphones with features similar to the iPhone.

As recent as last week, Allaster told reporters she was optimistic at renewing the title deal with Sony Ericsson, also pointing to the fact that the WTA has only lost one tournament title sponsor during the economic slowdown.