We’ve been peppered with calls and e-mails here at Donnay after a story ran last week in the tennis trade bible, RSI Magazine, reporting that Andre Agassi recently bought 46 Donnay‘s X-P Dual tennis racquets from us. The question most asked in disbelief is, “Are you really NOT paying him to play?”
To set the record straight, the RSI article is absolutely true. Andre did a blind play test of 25 tennis racquet frames from four different manufacturers and chose the Donnay X-P on its performance merits, with no (purse) strings attached.
But, we can appreciate the dumfounded cynicism out there about the very idea of a modern celebrity using a product that he or she isn’t getting paid to eat, drink, wear, drive…or in this case, use to smack a fuzzy yellow ball. Especially since Andre and Head Racquets have been inseparable since 1993, a year after he won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon wielding the original Donnay Pro One.
The Donnay-Agassi ‘no-deal’ deal flies in the face of modern deal-happy celebrities who attach their names and likenesses to just about any brand that’s willing to pay the big bucks, even if they don’t necessarily use it, as was the case of Britney Spears and Pepsi in 2001. She signed a multi-million dollar ad deal with the soft-drink brand that that was suddenly terminated when she was caught on camera guzzling a Coke.
Today, skeptical and sophisticated consumers wonder: Does Sarah Jessica Parker actually color her hair with Garnier? ‘Only her hairdresser knows for sure,’ to borrow a classic advertising slogan. And does LeBron really wear those $315 Nike signature shoes he endorses? Probably, but it wouldn’t be the first time a superstar painted over his trusty and beloved sneaks with the Nike Swoosh.
Pro tennis players in particular are notorious for endorsing tennis racquets they don’t really use. Roger Federer’s personal racquet customizer told a reporter in 2010 that his client’s sticks aren’t the BLX variety he hawks, but cosmetized versions of his old Pro Staff models. Thomas Muster, the former World No 1 player from Austria, was once asked by a reporter why he switched from a Kneissl model to a Head racquet. He candidly answered, “Same racquet. New paint job.”
Look at a photo of the racquet Petra Kvitova uses in her WTA Tour matches. It has Wilson’s Perimeter Weighting System (PWS) that is distinctive and unmistakable because PWS consists of two bulges at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the racquet face. The model she advertises – the Wilson Steam 100 BLX – is smooth and bulge-less and belongs in the Pro Staff family of Wilson racquets.
What we love about Agassi’s ‘no-deal’ deal with Donnay is that it’s an extremely rare case of genuine organic interest from the tennis legend, not the usual play-for-pay.
It’s the kind of endorsement that affirms the quality of our brand. And that’s something not even Nike money can buy.
Andre Agassi’s Donnay Tennis ‘No-Deal’ Deal Q&A Break Down
You’ve got questions about Agassi’s use of Donnay tennis racquets and we’ve got answers…
Q: Did fellow X-P user and fellow senior tour player Jim Courier or Roman Prokes, Agassi’s racquet customizer and Donnay retail dealer, talk Andre into playing with Donnay racquets?
- A: No. Andre’s decision was strictly his own, following an extensive blind play test.
Q: Will Donnay try to formalize its relationship with Andre contractually?
- A: There are no plans at this time. Our understanding is that he strictly wants a tennis racquet that will help him best compete at the highest level. For now, he’s strictly Donnay’s biggest single customer with his massive order of frames.
Q: Is Agassi getting a discount?
- A: Yes, he’s receiving a volume discount on the frames.
Q: Didn’t Agassi have a lifetime deal with Head?
- A: We have no idea of what his relationship is with any current or former sponsor.
Q: Didn’t Agassi hate his original Donnay Pro One?
- A: According to Andre’s autobiography, “Open,” his coach, Nick Bolletieri, forced the racquet on him because he had cut a deal with a previous owner of the brand. He went back to his old racquet – the Prince Graphite – until Donnay got it right. We didn’t take over Donnay until 2009. Here’s what one chatter on the Tennis Warehouse boards had to say about that: “The new line of [Donnay] racquets is nothing like the old, and there is no greater witness for that than Andre himself. Once upon a time you couldn’t pay him a gazillion dollars to swing a Donnay; now he’s paying for them out of his own pocket. That’s quite a turnaround.” We, at Donnay, wholeheartedly agree.
Have a question about Agassi’s ‘no-deal’ deal with Donnay? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll follow up right here on our Arm Safe Performance blog.