Jess is an experienced sports marketer and journalist who guides FanThreeSixty's social media and content strategy while facilitating impactful conversations to create personalized experiences. She loves the Iowa Hawkeyes, yoga, and Friday nights at the K.
This year at the US Open, fans were exposed to more than just the star-studded action on the court. The two week Grand Slam tournament set new standards and demolished attendance records while receiving praise for transforming the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center into an ultimate space for onsite branding experiences.
Here is a look at some of the most engaging activations from sponsors and brands at this year’s US Open.
1. American Express
For the 26th year, American Express lead the way in multi-fan attractions and cutting-edge technology that engaged fans beyond the status quo. The prestigious credit card company put on an immersive fan experience that had something for every fan. The attractions range from an interactive game of Pong and digital murals to a subway ride through US Open history.
It didn’t stop there. AMEX members had access to the American Express Card Member Lounge and American Express Centurion Suites both offering luxurious amenities such as hair and makeup touchups, complimentary sneaker cleaning, and top of the line food and beverages for purchase. As if they needed to do add anything else, they offered card members early access to a “Buy one get one 50 percent off” for purchasing tickets to select matches during the tournament. It is safe to say that American Express was the sponsor to beat.
HEAR HERE with a complimentary @AmericanExpress Radio. Amex Card Members, pick yours up to get live US Open updates right in your ear. #AmexLife. While supplies last, one per Card Member. pic.twitter.com/IGK68pXQlN— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 27, 2019
2. Grey Goose
Honey dew and vodka anyone? Grey Goose Vodka returned as a fan favorite with its Grey Goose Honey Deuce cocktail, but it stepped up its game with the Grey Goose Suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The suite served guests classic cocktails and showed live matches so fans could stay up-to-date on the live action from the courts.
The vodka brand launched limited-edition cups for fans in-venue and limited-edition bottles that would be available to purchase from retailers. This way fans who would be watching from the comfort of their own homes could partake in the refreshing Honey Deuce cocktail.
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Deliver the perfect serve from home with our signature US Open cocktail, The Honey Deuce. 1.5 parts Grey Goose Vodka 3 parts Fresh Lemonade .5 part Premium Raspberry Liqueur Frozen Honeydew Melon Balls Fill a chilled Collins Glass with crushed ice and add Grey Goose Vodka. Top with fresh lemonade and raspberry liqueur. Garnish with a skewer of multiple frozen honeydew melon balls. #LiveVictoriously ✌🏽 #USOpen #HoneyDeuce
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3. Polo Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren has been the official outfitter of the US Open since 2005, designing personalized uniforms for staff and personnel each year for the tournament. This year, the iconic clothing brand served up a customization program at its pop-up boutique. Through an innovative printing process, fans could choose Polo apparel and accessories to customize with original logos or their names and initials.
Polo also furthered its sustainability initiatives by delivering the 2019 Ball Person uniform made entirely from yarn derived from recycled plastic bottles. This year the brand expected to collect approximately 12,000 bottles that would go towards making the fabric of the 2020 Ball Person uniform.
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Ballpeople keep the matches going with their keen eyes and quick feet. The 2019 @USOpen ballperson collection features performance garments crafted from yarns made with recycled plastic bottles — part of @RalphLauren’s global goal of recycling 170 million bottles by 2025. Shop the #USOpen Collection via link in bio. #PoloRalphLauren
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For the first time in two decades Fila hosted an on-site retail shop. The brand had been celebrating and honoring its original creative director, Pierluigi Rolando, by launching collections inspired from Rolando’s sketches. With each collection launching around major tournaments it is no surprise that something big would be coming to the US Open.
To promote the 1,900 square foot space, the Italian shoe brand teamed up with media partner VICE to create a Tennis in Technicolor pop-up fan experience that merged fashion and tennis. Opening to the public the weekend before the tournament, fans could fill in a coloring book mural featuring Rolando’s illustrations, watch the mutli-media archive gallery, play some tennis table, and enjoy complimentary food and drinks.
Mercedes-Benz debuted a Sloane Stephens augmented reality experience that allowed fans to take a virtual one-on-one personalized tennis lesson with the 2017 U.S Open champion. The luxury car brand created the experience by videoing Stephens style of play and herself giving coaching advice on serving and technique. All fans have to do to activate the personalized experience is ask its in-car voice assistant, “Hey, Mercedes, teach me to play like Sloane.”
Check out the "Serve Like Sloane" MBUX Augmented Reality experience at the US Open! Stop by the East Gate Mercedes-Benz showroom at Arthur Ashe stadium to "share the court" with me and show me what you've got! #USOpen #MBambassador pic.twitter.com/srzz184Wlu— Mercedes-Benz USAㅤ (@MercedesBenzUSA) August 27, 2019
6. I.H.G. Hospitality
InterContinental Hotels Group entered this year’s sponsorship group as a first-time hospitality partner to the US Open, bringing a variety of fan experiences that everyone could enjoy. Onsite, they held a free spa-inspired experience for fans to take a break from the action and relax with infused water samples, personal massages while watching videos about a desired destination, and high-end design features that fans could share across social media.
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
For its 38th year sponsoring the tournament, J.P. Morgan Chase designed an exclusive getaway lounge for its card members to kick back, relax, and put their music tastes to the test. As part of this onsite activation, fans were invited to take an electronic quiz that created a personalized playlist that would match their playlist with celebrities and other brand ambassadors. This gave fans the chance to see how their music choices paired with stars like Serena Williams, Steph Curry and so many more, making fans feel more connected to their favorite celebrities. The financial firm also hosted a week long concert series called Chase Sound Check concerts, that was free and exclusively for its card members, with performances from Leon Bridges, HAIM, Brett Eldredge and more.
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Here’s to an unforgettable week! @leonbridgesofficial closed out #USOpen Fan Week and brought all the feels during his #ChaseSoundCheck performance 🙌 Watch our Instagram Story for an exclusive interview with Leon and front seat to his incredible performance.
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The Experience Matters
If it’s one thing we can learn from the US Open, it’s that the fan experience takes center court in sports today. From branded on-site activations and celebrity attractions to make-at-home cocktails, sponsors are focused on creating deeper connections with fans that live beyond gameday. By doing so, they aren’t just turning an event into a lasting memory, but they are also putting their brand at the center of that experience.