The 51st annual US Open Tennis Championships kicked off with a bang, drawing in a record 68,000 fans on Opening Day of the competition (Aug. 19 to Sept. 8) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, NY. In addition to catching all of the on-court action, attendees had the opportunity to mix and mingle with a variety of brands, thanks to a roster of 21 tournament sponsors. Here’s a look at five fan experiences that caught our attention.
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IHG Hotels & Resorts
IHG marked its debut at the US Open with a slate of fan experiences and a partnership with tennis legend Andy Roddick. The brand launched its sponsorship campaign Aug. 20-21 at its Kimpton Hotel Eventi property in Manhattan, where an ice cream cart serving flavors from Morgernstern’s Finest Ice Cream were served from noon to 4 p.m. Then on Aug. 24, IHG served as official sponsor of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, offering free meal vouchers and hands-on tennis activities to young athletes. On Aug. 30, two lucky fans earned an upgrade to courtside seats and a five-night stay at IHG’s new Maldives resort, where they’ll participate in personalized culinary experiences. On Sept. 7, IHG’s InterContinental Ambassador and Royal Ambassador loyalty members were treated to an exclusive tennis clinic hosted by Roddick, including drills, doubles points and a meet-and-greet session. And on Sept. 8, the final day of the tournament, the brand hosted a live viewing event of the men’s finals on a 30-foot outdoor screen at the Kimpton.
Throughout the tournament, IHG also offered special perks to loyalty members, including post-match press conference access, breakfast in the players’ dining area, meet-and-greet passes and a chance to bid on tickets to “Legends, Unmatched,” an introductory US Open celebration featuring an appearance by Roddick and a performance by Grammy award-winning artist Leon Bridges.
At the heart of IHG’s US Open sponsorship was an on-site activation available from Aug. 26-Sept. 8. The spa-inspired experience took a cue from the industry’s wellness trend, giving attendees the opportunity to indulge in temple massages and a sampling of infused waters. There was also a “digital daydream” experience offering an encounter with some of the brand’s luxury properties around the world. Participants selected an IHG destination, then watched a video about the property as a massage therapist provided a cooling towel infused with scents inspired by that particular hotel. Agency: Momentum Worldwide.
Need a breather, #USOpen tournament goers? We’ve got your back (and feet, go on, put them up). Head over to The @IHG Experience in the South Plaza where we’re serving up some serious rejuvenation. Not in New York with us? Check out our Instagram Story for your own digital escape. pic.twitter.com/Cm4eHFRKA1
— IHG Hotels & Resorts (@IHG) August 27, 2019
Along with media partner VICE, Fila produced a Tennis in Technicolor pop-up experience in Brooklyn, NY, open Aug. 24-25, that showcased the intersection of fashion and tennis. Throughout the year, the brand honored its original creative director, Pierluigi Rolando, by releasing collections inspired by his early sketches that were timed with major tennis tournaments, culminating with the Brooklyn pop-up. The experience invited attendees to fill in a coloring book mural wall featuring Rolando campaign illustrations, check out a multimedia archive gallery wall, play table tennis, munch on complimentary fare, sip on drinks provided by Peroni and Mionetto at the open “Backhand Bar”, enjoy tunes by MISTERVACATION and, for the first 100 people to arrive, snag a gift. Agency: The Gathery.
Photo courtesy: The Gathery
Asics wasn’t on-site at the US Open, but the brand leveraged its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to engage tennis fans during opening week. Visitors could practice their skills on a mini tennis court and participate in training drills and games to win prizes. The brand on Aug. 23 additionally hosted a special event with four of its sponsored athletes—tennis pros Gaël Monfils, Julia Görges, Alex de Minaur and Shuai Zhang—who participated in a Q&A, signed autographs and took photos with fans.
If there’s one brand consumers associate with the US Open, it’s American Express, which has been a tournament partner for over a quarter of a century. For its 26th year participating, the company once again leaned on cutting-edge technology to engage attendees, this time with a “Tennis City” activation inside its Fan Experience. The brand additionally offered a Cardmember Lounge, cardmember spend offers, contactless payment touchpoints throughout the US Open grounds, networking opportunities for small businesses and American Express Radios providing live commentary from ESPN, available to cardmembers. Phew.
Fusing the sport of tennis with the culture of New York City, the brand’s Tennis City experience offered fans a variety of interactive engagements that highlighted the sights and sounds of the US Open’s hometown. Digital murals designed by Brooklyn-based artist Askew One gave attendees a chance to digitally spray-paint their own work of art, while a “Rally Remix” experience allowed fans to create their own melodies using tennis balls to trigger certain rhythms. There was also a life-sized game of ping-pong tied to New York’s five boroughs, and a subway car installation that departed from “Court Street” and took attendees on a tech-fueled journey through US Open history, including highlighting tennis stars the brand has partnered with along the way.
Amex also brought its Centurion Lounge for Platinum and Centurion cardmembers, which debuted at last year’s tournament, back to the event. But this time there was a twist—by pulling a specific book from a shelf within the footprint, attendees could access a hidden speakeasy. The cozy space featured tennis-themed artwork, memorabilia and branded installations for fans to explore. The experience was designed to give cardmembers a taste of a similar lounge space the brand will bring to John F. Kennedy International Airport later this year. Agency: Momentum Worldwide.
During US Open Fan Week, Chase invited cardmembers to stop by its Sapphire Banking Lounge, which could be accessed by reserving a “session” online ahead of time. The sleek blue space offered access to Chase’s Sound Check concerts, an exclusive match-viewing area, photo ops and complimentary bites like mini soft pretzels and vegetable crudité. Fans could also check out a pop-up donut installation, grab a frozen margarita from roaming servers, fuel up at a coffee and tea bar, grab a free branded hat and rest in a variety of lounge spaces.