Throwback: Sponsor Activations at the U.S. Open 2019

A case study in sponsor activations. See how brands such as American Express, Mercedes-Benz, I.B.M., Fila, and more are engaging with tennis fans during the 51st annual tournament.

US Open Tennis Sponsor Activations

Last year the U.S. Open drew record crowds to the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Some came for the tennis, others for the sponsor activations. They set a record opening day attendance of 68,059 people and through Labor Day 2019, the event drew 540,333, which was the tournament’s highest-ever attendance for its first eight days. This year is well, a bit different.  

There's a pandemic. 

While New Yorkers and visitors took the 7 train out to Flushing, Queens, last year to see matches such as Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova and star players like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, they also were drawn by onsite brand experiences. Longtime tournament sponsors such as American Express, I.B.M., and J.P.Morgan Chase evolved their fan experiences to deliver a mix of high-tech and low-tech activations and lounges, while other brands such as first-time sponsor InterContinental Hotels Group and Fila held adjacent pop-ups around the city to interact with tennis fans. 

Here’s a look back at some of the most engaging event ideas from sponsors and brands at last year’s U.S. Open to inspire you for your future events. 


Amex Activation US Open
A replica of the Empire State Building, created with tennis nets, includes a neon hashtag sign, surrounded by hanging tennis balls.


Amex Subway Car US Open
A “Court Street Station” subway car buildout takes fans through historical moments in U.S. Open history by using audio and visual theater.
Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images



US Open Tennis Fila Activation
Italian sportswear company Fila ended a yearlong campaign celebrating the brand's original creative director, Pierluigi Rolando, with a colorful pop-up in Williamsburg that ran August 24 to 25. The tennis-theme pop-up, which was produced and designed by the Gathery, paid tribute to Rolando (known for introducing color to tennis outfits in 1973) with a variety of tennis-theme vignettes and table tennis.
Photo: Omar Alexander Hernandez


US  Tennis Fila Activation
Interactive stations for guests included a coloring book mural, where guests could color in the newest campaign illustrations.
Photo: Omar Alexander Hernandez


Grey Goose Sponsorship Activation
The Grey Goose Suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium is open through the duration of the event, serving guests cocktails and showing live matches. Epsilon designed the suite.
Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Grey Goose
Mercedes Benz activation US open
Mercedes-Benz debuted an augmented-reality experience featuring Sloane Stephens, inviting fans to take a virtual tennis lesson from the 2017 U.S. Open champion and Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador. The car brand developed the technology experience by capturing the style and play of Stephens with video, and translating the footage into A.R. features. To capture Sloane's performance, Mercedes-Benz recorded her in front of a green screen as an alpha-channel enabled video, which creates an illusion mimicking her real-life behaviors and motions. Fans activated the personalized lesson by approaching the tennis court and verbally asking, "Hey, Mercedes, teach me to play like Sloane.” After the U.S. Open, the experience will travel to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the first Atlanta Falcons home game of the N.F.L. season.





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