National Bank wants to attract more girls to tennis with ‘Girls. Set. Match’ ad from Sid Lee

Who: National Bank and Tennis Canada, with Sid Lee for creative and production (directed by Martin C. Pariseau), with media by BTA Creates.

What: “Girls. Set. Match,” new advertising supporting National Bank’s 10-year commitment to promote gender equality in Canadian tennis.

When & Where: The new initiative was announced Monday, accompanied by the new 30-second ad running on TV along with cutdowns both for TV and social. However, National Bank has been rolling out its ramped-up commitment to Tennis Canada for a few months (see below).

Why: National Bank has long been committed to tennis in Canada, including serving as presenting sponsor of the Rogers Cup in both Montreal and Toronto for years. In February, it took over naming rights for the two events, now known as the National Bank Open.

“We invest in this sport to allow athletes, kids and adults from all sorts of backgrounds to excel and achieve their goals and dreams,” said National Bank’s president and CEO, Louis Vachon, at the time. “This partnership will enable us to have a positive impact on their development.”

The program announced Monday is an example of how National Bank will be contributing to the game in Canada. Citing recent research showing that one in every three girls drops out of a sport during adolescence (compared to one in 10 boys), and as many as 62% of Canadian girls do not play any sport, National Bank said it is committed to meaningful actions and to attracting and retaining more girls.

“The launch of this initiative is a defining moment for tennis in Canada as we aim to increase participation in our sport at all levels among women and girls,” said Jennifer Bishop, Tennis Canada’s chair of the board. “This program also provides us with an excellent platform to champion our existing women players, coaches, staff and stakeholders as Tennis Canada positions itself as a leader in this space.”

How: The program has three pillars: working with broadcast partners to ensure there is an “equal voice” in how women’s tennis is covered; a succession plan to ensure equality in the business of tennis; and efforts to attract and retain young girls to the sport.

The new ad focuses on the latter by featuring Canadian tennis star Bianca Andreescu, who has been named the program’s first honorary ambassador. The 30-second spot celebrates the drive, passion and power of female tennis players with clips of Andreescu and a handful of other young female tennis players. The video presents them as fierce competitors who a narrator describes as “unstoppable [and] unapologetic,” before adding “Serve it all up, because girl, you got game.”

“Men’s tennis content is twice as likely to refer to ‘battle’ terminology, 70% more likely to mention a player’s physical prowess, and 50% more likely to mention the term G.O.A.T,” said Sid Lee creative director Isabelle Allard. “But what if we told these young women just how strong and capable they are by using the same language we usually use for boys? That’s something that Tennis Canada, National Bank, and Sid Lee really wanted to explore as part of the creative process.”

And we quote: “Inclusion and diversity are core values at National Bank, and we’re very proud to be working with Tennis Canada on this landmark initiative. Participating in sports is great for physical and mental health and can have a positive impact on every aspect of our lives. That’s why we need to give women and girls at all levels an equal opportunity to reach their full potential through physical activity,” —Lucie Blanchet, executive vice-president, personal banking and client experience, National Bank.

David Brown