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(May 25, 2001) PARIS -- Online recruitment service has become the third upper-tier sponsor -- alongside French bank BNP-Paribas and French automaker Peugeot -- for TV advertising linked to the French Open tennis tournament, which begins May 28. will pay state-owned France Television about $1 million for sponsorship rights during the two-week clay court event, expected to draw 380,000 spectators and a global TV audience estimated at more than 1.7 billion in 170 countries over its two-week run.

Executives at's French division,, say the Roland Garros sponsorship will offer exceptional visibility before a target audience of upper-income, educated professionals and allow the company to launch a new wave of TV commercials from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Paris, which handles the company's $15 million annual French advertising budget.

While TV rights will comprise the lion's share of the estimated $85 million in revenues generated by the 2001 French Open, organizers say other areas of the sport's sponsorship and marketing are growing rapidly at the event, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, along with the Australian Open, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.

Corporate sponsorships from 20 partner companies will generate $25 million in revenues, according to tournament organizers, with BNP-Paribas leading the way. The bank, a longtime backer of the French Open, will pay upward of $5 million for prime ad placements on scoreboards, programs and courtside panels seen by the global TV audience.

Other leading sponsors in 2001 include Peugeot, which provides transport for all players and thus benefits from widespread visibility at the Roland Garros complex; Nestle-owned mineral water brand Perrier, which is omnipresent at snack bars and distributes popular sun hats that show up well on TV; and IBM Corp., which runs computer technology systems and sponsors the tournament's popular Internet site -- -- which offers news and live updates.

More than two dozen sports equipment and clothing manufacturers -- including sportswear giants Adidas and Lacoste and racket experts Prince and Wilson -- have paid to showcase their wares and provide product demonstrations across the tournament site, while more than a dozen leading lights of the French corporate community have reserved tennis and hospitality packages for the duration of the tournament.

Finally, tournament organizers expect to record strong sales of clothing, accessories and souvenirs marketed under their Roland Garros brand, which now covers some 900 products and brings in revenues topping $285 million annually. -- Lawrence J. Speer

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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