ss-evian-us-open-2023-overhead-view of court

How evian Cruised into the US Open with a Floating Tennis Court

“We’ve partnered with [Maria Sharapova] for more than 10 years. She’s been a great partner for evian. First and foremost, with all of her experience and what she’s been through in her career and after, she brings a lot of authenticity to the brand, and she’s a great way for us to engage with our target audience.”

–Leeni Hämäläinen, Marketing Director, evian North America

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The SS evian included a premium bar serving cocktails and, naturally, evian water.

When you’ve been a sponsor of the US Open for decades, the biggest challenge is finding innovative ways to activate that partnership year after year. Heading into this year’s tournament, 35-plus-year partner evian, the official water of the US Open, sailed right over that obstacle aboard New York City’s first-ever floating tennis court. On Sept. 10, the SS evian (a Circle Line ferry) left port from New York Harbor and cruised around the Hudson River with “captain” Maria Sharapova, a brand ambassador and former US Open champion, at the helm. On board, attendees were invited to watch the Men’s Finals “courtside,” brush up on their hydration education and, in one lucky fan’s case, volley with Sharapova.

While coasting along in the elegant, pale pink branded vessel, pre-registered fans, and invited influencers, customers and partners mingled around a fabricated tennis court featuring court-style seating as they watched the tournament and enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, popsicles, ice-cold bottles of evian and a live dj performance from Coco & Breezy. Throughout the voyage, influencers, the brand’s social team, Racquet magazine and members of the United States Tennis Association were all capturing ample content and broadcasting it to their respective social channels.

wendys-barge-seattle-2019_teaserMore Floating Activations:

A highlight of the activation was a “Waterside Chat” with Sharapova moderated by fellow former pro tennis player Andrea Petkovic and presented in partnership with Racquet. Sharapova spoke to the role that hydration plays in acing one of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments and in maintaining optimal mental and physical fitness. She also offered insights from her post-tennis career as an entrepreneur.

“We’ve partnered with [Sharapova] for more than 10 years. She’s been a great partner for evian,” says Leeni Hämäläinen, marketing director at evian North America. “First and foremost, with all of her experience and what she’s been through in her career and after, she brings a lot of authenticity to the brand, and she’s a great way for us to engage with our target audience.”

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Sharapova and Ralph, who drew attention for guzzling a bottle of evian at the US Open, competed in a chugging contest.

Real tennis play was also part of the action. Ahead of the SS evian experience, fans could enter for a chance to volley with Sharapova by purchasing a ticket to the event. The winner was randomly selected through a drawing, and on board, got the rare opportunity to compete against a tennis legend, scoring two tickets to the 2024 US Open, to boot. Rounding out the activation’s memorable moments was a water-chugging contest between Sharapova and Ralph, the little boy who went viral for guzzling a bottle of evian at this year’s tournament.

The campaign additionally marked the first time evian partnered with Billion Oyster Project, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to restoring oyster reefs to New York Harbor and preserving the city’s waterways. As part of its long-term commitment to sustainability, the brand donated all proceeds from SS evian ticket sales to the organization.

As far as crafting a floating activation, Hämäläinen says the endeavor required more external partnerships than usual, including the Coast Guard, along with plenty of netting around the tennis court, to ensure that the event was both fun and safe and that all regulations and requirements were met. And every extra step was worth the effort.

“Tennis is synonymous with wellness and an active lifestyle, and that perfectly resonates with our brand ethos and our target audience,” Hämäläinen says. “For more than 35 years, we’ve been a partner of the US Open, hydrating both the fans as well as players on- and off-court. It’s an amazing way to show the importance of staying hydrated for peak performance, as well as everyday activities, and enjoying fun events. We love being partners with the US Open and are looking forward to continuing that collaboration.” Agencies: HUNTER (creative concept, direction); All Valley Yacht Club (event design, production).

SS evian_US Open 2023_Sharapova vs fan

The winner of an online drawing got a rare chance to volley with Sharapova, a US Open champion and evian ambassador.

Photo credit: BFA

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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