BNP Paribas is marking the 40th anniversary of its sponsorship of the French Open tennis tournament by building a tennis-playing robot and inviting fans to help France's top tennis pro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, train for the event.
Tennis enthusiasts are invited to log in via Twitter, where they can "help Jo triumph at Roland-Garros." There they will be able to drag and drop a tennis ball onto a virtual tennis court to set up the position of a shot against Mr. Tsonga. Each shot will be encoded and inserted into a tweet, which tennis fans can use to send a personal message to Mr. Tsonga just before the ball is sent.
Tweets so far include "Go Jo! We'll take you to the final and you can win for us," "Go Jo! The Roland Garros tournament has never been so open," and "Mission Roland Garros. You know what you are capable of -- it's your year."
The robot will be connected to Twitter via 3G, and will select users' tweets at random. The information encoded in the tweet will be used to launch a shot from the precise location chosen by the user.
A group of 40 "VIP Twitter Trainers" will be chosen from BNP Paribas' own social communities through a competition running on the website, where fans are asked to create a supportive tweet to send to Mr. Tsonga ahead of a prize draw, using the hashtag #tweetandshoot. Winners of the best tweet competition will be guaranteed to see their tennis shots aimed at Mr. Tsonga during the live-streamed on-court session on May 23rd at 1600 GMT. The campaign was created by independent social media agency, We Are Social.
Mr .Tsonga said in a statement, "I've always loved a challenge and when BNP Paribas asked me to take part in a world first experience to mark its 40 year partnership with Roland-Garros, I was immediately intrigued. Being trained by fans on Twitter a few days ahead of the French Open -- what a daring challenge!"
The tournament runs from Sunday May 26th to June 9th.