Sex in centre court: user experience at Wimbledon

27.06.2009 | Author: Eric Reiss
Let me make this clear: I have no intention of making this post politically correct. If you’re easily offended, click off now.
 
CNN Sports just aired a weird report about the women tennis players, currently slogging it out on the three courts at Wimbledon. The “centre court” is the most prestigious place to play. And yet some major tournament winners (Svetlana Kuznetsova, for example), have been relegated to side courts while lesser players are being showcased in centre court, such as Denmark’s Caroline Wozniaki (Danish born of Polish parents, if you were wondering).
 
Now Caroline ranks number nine on the WTF’s list for women’s singles, so she’s clearly no slouch (Svetlana is ranked number five). But it was fascinating to see CNN work so hard to avoid mentioning the obvious: the good-looking women are getting centre court exposure. Caroline ranks number three on cutiepietennis.com. Svetlana didn’t make the cut.
 
“I don’t understand this scheduling,” asked Svetlana with innocence in her voice and daggers in her eyes. Great CNN interview where a picture was truly worth a thousand words.

 

tennis 

Caroline (left), Svetlana (right). Images borrowed from cutiepietennis.com and svetlana-kuznetsova.com]


Wimbledon is about user experience
Although no one will ever have proof, it would seem the organizers of this tournament have considered that sex appeal will create a better user experience and raise more cash. And centre court is the pricy ticket (and where the TV cameras are). Now this theory is just guesswork on my part (wink, wink), but the strategy certainly makes sense. The fact that this story made it to CNN suggests that there is something to it.
 
Political correctness doesn’t always mean good business
Here in Denmark, many people still believe it is bad manners to discuss money. This is also an example of political correctness – at least in terms of our local culture. For decades, “profit” was a dirty word, never spoken in polite society. This started to change in the late 80s and early 90s. But the problem still lurks just under the surface.
 
Problem, you ask? Yes, that’s exactly what it is. You cannot run a business without thinking about profit. And you cannot make wise decisions if you avoid discussing profit with your colleagues and advisors. Or avoid talking about the use of sex as a commercial draw at Wimbledon.
 
And this relates to the web…how?
When FatDUX pitches new Danish clients, you can almost hear the gasp when we suggest that a website should become a profit center. There are three things at play here. First, older business leaders still think that a website is just an electronic brochure, so using the web in a more proactive manner is a very hard concept for them to grasp. Second, how can a site become a profit center? (“We’re not an e-commerce company. We don’t sell online.) Third, it’s still rude to talk about money.
 
The first issue is tough. But as the economic situation becomes more and more dire for those companies that have dropped their advertising and fired their sales force, some business leaders are starting to see that a good website is a must-have asset.
 
The second issue is even tougher. If people are not willing to talk about profitability, it’s difficult to formulate an effective internet strategy. This has very little to do with online sales. Rather, it’s about building trust, creating the shared reference that helps potential customers make the decision to contact your company. And ultimately, it’s about improving the bottom line, no matter which revenue streams are in play.
 
It’s not particularly difficult to create a useful website that supports business goals. But if this is what you need to build, then take my advice: get past the internal politics and forget political correctness.
 
And as to the third issue? To paraphrase the American advertising guru Rosser Reeves: “Do you want to be politically correct or do you want the damned sales curve to go up?”
 
Wimbledon seems to be getting it right. Are you?

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