Winmau can be classed as darts industry royalty. Involved, in everything darts, for over six decades they are a name known, if not pronounced correctly, to millions around the globe.
Even by Winmau’s standards the announcement of their partnership with the PDC and their exclusive board supply and sponsorship deal – Blade 6 will be the board for all PDC events – is a tremendous coup. It is also a reversal of fortune that many would have thought unlikely only a couple of years ago.
Cast your mind back only two and a bit years ago. Winmau had not renewed their partnership with the BDO for the World Masters, indeed The Winmau World Masters as it had been known for 45 or more years, the BDO/Lakeside World Championship would be moving venues, and for the first time in living memory Winmau would not be the signature board.
With Unicorn being long associated with the PDC there seemed little or no room for Winmau to get their well-regarded and hugely popular boards the exposure they deserved.
Winmau was founded in 1946 by ex-Sargeant Major Harry Kicks, who named the company after his wife Winifred Maud – with the name pronounced Win-More:
Such a company was unlikely to let such obstacles stand in its way for long.
One advantage was firmly retained by the British company. The brand was known and trusted by amateur players, open venue promoters, pubs, clubs, and similar venues throughout the UK as well as having a huge network of international wholesalers and contacts.
A second advantage was their deep connection to the development of the game and the progress of its players. Through initiatives such as the JDC, Team 360, and support of initiatives such as MAD (now the ADC) they had strong relationships throughout darts and were determined to cement and further these as the landscape changed.
With the signing of Michael Van Gerwen Winmau surprised the industry, and signalled their intent to remain involved at the top end of the sport, in the clearest way possible.
The demise of BDO, the wrecking ball of Covid, and several other factors looked likely to reshape the landscape of both elite and amateur darts for the years ahead.
More tremors were soon felt in 2021 when Barry Hearn stepped aside and handed over to his son Eddie. In many ways, the modern PDC had been Barry’s vision and his stepping back marked a generational change that seems to have extended across much of the organisation.
It is here, perhaps, that Winmau had positioned themselves so perfectly when Eddie and the new PDC, moved beyond the old ties of loyalty and wanted a 21st-century partner.
One look at the outline of the deal announced by Eddie Hearn and the PDC together with Winmau today leaves no doubt as to the nature of the partnership. This is not the old-fashioned ‘stick your name on the TV and other visible assets for xx years’ type deal.
Winmau modern use of data to define what the customer wants and how to get it to them. Their knowledge of all areas of darts will support the Development and Challenge Tours and provide continuity right from under 10s playing the JDC all the way to elite professionals competing for £15million in prize money this year.
It is truly a remarkable transformation for the brand that started off as Kicks dartboards until Olly Croft persuaded a name change and a World Master sponsorship in the mid-1970s.
From almost no commercial way to display their wares, Winmau will now have Blade 6 dartboards in every major code, every major TV event and every development stage within the UK game.
Whether your playing a local amateur event connected to the ADC, or have qualified for the ultimate amateur World Championship at the Lakeside you will be supported by Blade 6 and Winmau.
Should you wish to progress to the Elite via the Development, Challenge and finally Pro Tour you will ply you trade on the exact same piece of kit.
And should you do a Rob Cross and go all the way from amateur qualifier to World Champion, you and all the millions watching you on TV (and in new media) will never see anything but the latest Winmau board and products.
Someone indeed knows how to Win-More.
Lead Images: Winmau/PDC , Words: JR Lott
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