(April 22, 10:55 a.m.) California Giant Inc.’s cycling team sponsorship has brought an unexpected dividend.

The Watsonville, Calif., berry marketer is partnering with The Tennis Channel, Santa Monica, Calif., to promote the cable channel’s coverage of Wimbledon.

“The Tennis Channel actually approached California Giant, because of our reputation for sponsoring a healthy, active lifestyle,” said Cindy Jewell, the grower-shipper’s marketing director.

Strawberries with cream have been traditional fare at the tournament since its founding in 1877.

“It dates back to when only royalty and the wealthy could attend, and strawberries were considered a delicacy and very seasonal,” Jewell said. “So it was kind of an elitist thing to go to Wimbledon to eat strawberries with cream.”

THE SWEETEST MATCH

The joint promotion, to be known as “The Sweetest Match,” includes a national retail campaign and a sweepstakes offering a chance to win the grand prize, a trip to Wimbledon 2009, Jewell said. The promotion is scheduled to begin May 9.

Twenty million clamshells of California Giant strawberries will carry co-branded labels featuring The Tennis Channel’s coverage of the legendary tournament and The Sweetest Match sweepstakes, Jewell said. The promotion will be supported by in-store header cards, she said.

The company plans to unveil the retail materials at the United Fresh Produce Association’s convention May 4-7 in Las Vegas. Representatives from The Tennis Channel are scheduled to be at the California Giant booth, Jewell said.

The promotion concludes with the tournament June 23-July 6, she said. In addition to the retail efforts, the Web sites of California Giant and Tennis Channel will provide information on the nutritional benefits of strawberries and healthful living tips aimed at educating consumers, Jewell said.

The partners will hold special strawberries and cream tastings leading up to and during Wimbledon in cities where cable operators carry The Tennis Channel. Contest entry forms, rules and recipes may be found at www.TheSweetestMatch.com.

The winner of the grand prize of “The Sweetest Match” will receive a trip for two to the 2009 Wimbledon Championships. Three runners-up will receive Bowflex home gym equipment provided by Nautilus Inc., Vancouver, Wash., Jewell said.

Cal Giant joins strawberry tradition at Wimbledon
Clamshells of California Giant strawberries will soon feature a special promotional label offering consumers a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Wimbledon 2009, plus a one-day excursion to Paris.