The Late Chinese Tennis Star Inspired Mary J. Blige Ad

The first title sponsor of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in over 10 years is Hologic ($HOLX), which is not a traditional sports-adjacent brand.

The medical technology company’s CEO told Yahoo Finance that the seemingly unlikely sponsorship arose from the WTA’s withdrawal from China amid the sudden disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after she made allegations of sexual assault against a prominent Chinese official in November.

“I would say that was a catalyst,” Hologic CEO Steve MacMillan said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “We were very aware of that. We appreciate the values ​​they have. We didn’t do it because of it, but we became much more aware of it, of the whole situation of the WTA and their needs, thanks to their courageous actions.

Peng eventually reappeared at the Beijing Olympics in February, but never explained her absence from WTA tournaments. The former world No. 1 in doubles tennis said later a French newspaper that it was “a huge misunderstanding” and denied having made the accusation of sexual assault.

Drew Pavlou (L) is pictured wearing a “Where’s Peng Shuai?” T-shirt on the court outside one of the Australian Open tennis tournament venues in Melbourne on January 25, 2022. (Photo by Paul Crock / AFP)

The WTA immediately called on Chinese authorities to investigate and took a strong stance against the Chinese government’s lack of response to Peng’s disappearance. The association withdrew all tournaments from China, a move that contrasts sharply with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) non-comment on the widely covered topic. genocide happening in the host country of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Hologic, which focuses on women’s health and wellness, admired the WTA’s final stance and thought the association’s focus on empowering women would be a good fit.

“At first, we’re just thinking of doing a little sponsorship, to get involved in something small,” MacMillan said. “But we got so close and we realized the needs and the opportunities of the WTA. And a big part of what we’re trying to do with Hologic right now is we realize we need advocates on a global scale. And the WTA is very global.

Shuai Peng of China plays a backhand during day two of the 2020 Australian Open on January 21, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Shuai Peng of China plays a backhand during day two of the 2020 Australian Open on January 21, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Hologic’s mission to raise awareness of women’s health issues also took center stage in the sports world earlier this year. The company aired a commercial with Mary J. Blige during the Super Bowl. Having already developed a relationship with Blige, a Big Game halftime entertainer in Los Angeles, Hologic has leveraged her relationship to highlight every woman’s need for preventative care, regardless of what her life is. daily may involve.

“We just thought, let’s do something a little out of our comfort zone and use it to try to get the message out further because we knew it would get a lot of incidental attention, which he did. clearly done because working with her obviously gained us a lot more awareness than we would even have on our own,” MacMillan said. “And that’s kind of what we think of the WTA is that the Hologic name is important and nice. But really, your partner with the WTA, our message will reach tens of millions of people over relevant way than if it were just Hologic by ourselves.

Josh is a producer for Yahoo Finance.

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