10 January 2019

Behind the scenes with the HEAD marketing team... or how to shoot a tennis pro as humanely as possible

Ever wondered how the top brands create the brilliant videos and promos with the world's greatest tennis players? It takes a special type of imaginative determination reveals Gion-Men Kruegel, Group Creative Director of HEAD Sports, in this exclusive look behind the scenes.

Sounds like a job made in heaven for a tennis fan? Then check out Gion-Men's invitation below to join HEAD's team of creatives

It’s 5am and I’m padding down a hotel corridor near Indian Wells, California, passing the doors of my fellow jet-lagged colleagues who are studying their prey by watching the highlights of the previous night’s epic match. Soon, the HEAD Marketing team will be gathered around the breakfast table preparing for today’s shoot.

Above, HEAD's celebrated campaign as tweeted by Novak

On location with HEAD



Gion-Men always has one eye on reporting and measurement.

A post shared by HEAD London Creative (@headlondoncreative) on

Check out Gion-Men and his team at work on their Instagram feed!

For the past three months, back in our busy creative studio in Victoria, London, the HEAD UK team have been hard at work gearing up towards this week’s production. That means lots of brainstorming, concept design and storyboarding, and numerous videoconferences with the marketing and communications specialists in our Austrian HQ, meetings with photographers, production people and directors, plus negotiations with player management executives.

This week's mission? To get Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev on court to bring to life our latest concept. We are going to need all their tennis skills, their patience and with any luck, their sense of humour.

In this fast-paced atmosphere, we remind ourselves that we are experienced and expert problem solvers. After all, didn’t we once manage to ship 30,000 tennis balls for a film we were making and didn’t lose a single one? (Mind you, we can’t swear anyone actually counted…)

By 6am, we’re already on set at our 5-star clubhouse location to film some pre-roll footage. The photo crew is on the main tennis court ready to welcome the first athlete for a two-hour photo session and a handful of mini film sequences. It’s amazing to watch the well-orchestrated team of grips, film directors, sound specialists, camera assistants (we even have a drone operator), make-up artists and lead creatives all pushing themselves to the limit to get the best results. 

The thing is, time is of essence because the athletes have better things to do – like actually playing crucial tennis matches.

And although the location can be quite a challenge with temperatures here in southern California soaring to 32C and beyond, working with professional athletes is about as good as it gets. One of the main differences between an actor and a professional athlete is that an athlete can handle long days doing repetitive moves on camera without ever complaining. They’re trained to endure and their character, charm, goodwill are beyond amazing. 

At one stage, we have two pro players with big personalities on set at the same time  – namely Alexander Zverev and Maria Sharapova – but, luckily, they like each other. We produce some great social media and marketing assets. It’s the kind of stuff you can’t plan ahead for, but you’ve got to be ready to grab the opportunity, point the camera and get those golden moments. 

Naturally, despite all our meticulous organising, things don’t always go to plan but our athletes supply a lot of goodwill and humour. Again, that’s probably because unlike a temperamental actor, a temperamental player won’t last long in a difficult game.

The pace is intense yet always exciting. Today, we’ve turned centre court into a buzzing tournament with over 40 extras cheering and clapping in the crowd scenes. The moment we finish with one player, he or she is whisked away and replaced by another star prepared and waiting in the wings.

When you’re working like this, it feels like no time at all has gone by until you hear: it’s a wrap!

That’s it for another season. But even as we’re looking at the rushes, we’re already planning for the next session, full of hope for another great year filled with the accolades and successes of our talented athletes.

Which brings me to a completely new subject – you...

If you are a creative designer, content producer and tennis fiend, how would you like to become a part of the HEAD creative studio team? Or do you know someone who would be interested?

HEAD is always on the lookout for great creative talent and it can guarantee you’ll have an interesting time.

FinD out more about working in the HEAD creative studio

It also promises that no tennis stars are ever harmed in the shooting of any of its videos.

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