Tennis Industry magazine

 

Embree Sees Solid Team, Edgy Brand Driving Prince

By Cynthia Sherman

Tennis industry veteran John Embree has been president of Prince Americas since this spring, and he’s been putting the wheels into motion as he works toward his goals for the Prince brand. Embree says he’s been assessing what’s working and what’s not working, but that it all comes down to the “Prince team” of employees as the driving force determining the brand’s success.

To make Prince the market leader, “All categories have to be firing at full efficiency,” says Embree. “Everything going on now translates to having a special 2009. Energizing the sales force and adding some critical people to the team will make a difference. Our sales reps have to become experts at all levels.”

Among his goals are capitalizing on O3 technology. Embree says more and more touring pros are using Prince racquets, and he wants to build on that theme. “Our performance racquets are the fuel that drives the engine and the opportunities to further enhance the player side of the business are tremendous. We’ll be even more attentive to what the players’ needs are.”

For the past four years, Embree has been a part owner of the specialty apparel brand Bälle de Mätch. Before that, he spent more than 17 years with Wilson Sporting Goods, where he rose to the position of vice president and general manager of Wilson’s global racquet sports division before leaving in 2003.

Embree is a proponent of building a brand from the grassroots. With Prince, he’s keen on finding talented kids to use the brand to form a solid core of players, and he cites the Prince Plugged In program as one that attracts and develops junior players who will become part of the Prince family. The PPI program connects more than 50 high-performance tennis academies into one network, where players and coaches share tips and strategies while competing in round-robin team competitions.

In coming months, Embree says a new Prince branding campaign will attract younger, more aggressive players. “We’re reinventing Prince as it relates to energy, grassroots and kids, and we’re coming across more edgy,” he says.

To reach the younger consumer, Embree sees using a wide range of tactics. For instance, Prince’s presence on Facebook encourages users to have an open dialogue about products, programs and ads, and YouTube has all the Prince TV spots.

Another branding foray for Prince is teaming up with Nintendo to introduce Prince racquets for the Wii. “Here, Prince has developed a racquet that encourages kids to get off the couch,” says Embree. “They like playing on screen, maybe it gets them from the video game to sporting goods stores. It’s great for the brand and the sport of tennis.

“All these benefits are growing the game,” he says. “Making tennis more mainstream. It’s all part of Prince’s effort to develop a cooler brand — more cutting edge — and represents a departure from traditional tennis marketing avenues.”

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About the Author

Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.

 

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