• 01.26.12

Tennis Player (And His Former Raquet Sponsor) Blow-Up. Advantage: Tecnifibre

Marcos Baghdatis may have lost his temper at the Australian Open on Wednesday, but he inadvertently propelled tennis racket manufacturer Tecnifiber into YouTube ubiquity. In the game of accidental advertising, Baghdatis just served an ace.

Tennis Player (And His Former Raquet Sponsor) Blow-Up. Advantage: Tecnifibre

Before yesterday, there was a fair chance you hadn’t heard of Tecnifibre, much less owned this particular brand of tennis racket. Now, thanks to a sharp piece of reporting by Jeff Bercovici over at Forbes on an epic tournament tantrum and a YouTube clip quickly approaching half a million views, you not only know the brand but are well aware of how it holds up under the most extreme duress.

In the middle of the Australian Open on Wednesday, the key action of the game occurred off-court. On the way to an eventual decisive loss, Cypriot tennis champ Marcos Baghdatis lost his temper in spectacular fashion. In response to his poor showing in one match, Baghdatis saw fit to smash a tennis racket, that inanimate extension of his own under performing arm. It wasn’t just one tennis racket that saw the business end of its owner’s dissatisfaction, though–he ended up breaking four of them. In a row. In less than a minute.

In between sets, Baghdatis can clearly be seen smashing what the world now knows to be a Tecnifibre racket into a crumpled aluminum objet d’art reminiscent of a miniature lacrosse stick. After the first one is done, he systematically mangles the next three with an eerily calm demeanor. At this point, it seems as though Baghdatis has something personal against the racket, or perhaps its manufacturer (as Bercovici first points out).

If he wanted to hurt Tecnifibre, the French athletic company that recently ended its sponsorship of Baghdatis, the tennis star could’ve perhaps thought of a different way to do so–perhaps one that didn’t inadvertently give the company a Wimbledon-sized publicity hit. Rather, Baghdatis became the latest in a long line of accidental spokesmen that may not have been planned by either party but ended up boosting sales or awareness for the brand.

As macabre and horrifying as the OJ Simpson association seemed at the time, Bruno Magli shoes and Ford Broncos are still discussed to this day by people who may otherwise have never mentioned either. Sure, they’re in connection with a grisly double murder in 1994, but that translates to nearly two decades’ worth of name recognition. Kid Rock was involved in a brawl in a Waffle House in 2010, but violence in the chain never seems to affect its popularity in the slightest. And just last November, Alec Baldwin’s Words With Friends infatuation, and Alec’s resultant expulsion from an airplane, ended up bringing more Friends into the fold.

So while Baghdatis technically defeated his racquet maker four to love, it’s Tecnifibre that ultimately wins in straight sets.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.