Sponsors’ balancing act to move with Australian Open in unpredictable times

February 9, 2021
By Melissa Parker

The Australian Open (AO) is a desirable sponsorship for liquor companies, and this year’s sponsors have made the most of delivering their brand strategies in extenuating circumstances.

First there was the uncertainty. Would the Australian Open even go ahead? Watching while international players and staff were flown in from hot spots around the world was as gripping as car crash television. Ranting social media dialogue from international players stuck in hotel quarantine while positive cases infected incoming chartered flights made us grit our teeth with anxiety of mutant strain outbreaks.

Even our ‘rebel without a cause’, Nick Kyrgios came to the conversation with this redeeming comment; “Like, you’re just a tennis player. Do you know what I mean? It’s not life, and death like this is.”

Yet among the chaos, we got our tennis tournament. This week it is in full swing, albeit a few weeks late and under the shadow of spectator restrictions.

Day one saw the attendance at 17,922, miles away from the 64, 387 people who walked into Melbourne Park on day one the year before. Still, we are acing it considering Wimbledon got cancelled and the US Open had no live spectators.

The AO is big business for liquor brand sponsors who invest heavily each year in the desirable AO property. AO 2021 sponsors Treasury Wine Estate, Piper Heidsieck, Peroni and Canadian Club have all rolled with the uncertainties and evolved to get the most from fluid circumstances by moving ahead with offsite activations as well as onsite.

It is the third year of Piper Heidsieck’s sponsorship and they have played the safe serve with both on and offsite activations.

At Rod Laver Arena, lucky onsite tennis fans can sip Piper Sauvage and Piper-Heidsieck’s award- winning Cuvée Brut served in licensed outlets across the precinct and at the all-new Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Bar at the Rod Laver Arena terrace.

Melbourne Park’s Garden Square will feature Garden Cabanas in white and Piper-Heidsieck’s trademark red available for up to 10 lucky spectators who can pop a Piper whilst enjoying the atmosphere of the year’s first Grand Slam. It is hard to surpass On-Court Seats Presented by Piper-Heidsieck. Sitting ground-level at Rod Laver Arena, at such close quarters you can feel the energy of the world’s best. The ultimate sponsor experience.

Offsite, Piper collaborated with The Greens in Sydney and The Commons in Melbourne. The Piper- Heidsieck Champagne Court at The Commons kicked off late last week and will continue through 21 February.

Sydneysiders can enjoy a similar Piper AO experience offsite at The Greens North Sydney where the bowling green overlooking picturesque Sydney Harbour will transform into three Piper Petit Tennis courts for February. Champagne lovers can enjoy a game barefoot while sipping on a glass of Sauvage while watching the professionals on the big six-metre outdoor screen where the Australian Open tournament will stream live.

Other AO sponsor, Treasury Wine Estates has kicked off its offsite activation with The Penfolds Conservatory, a premium riverside dining experience showcasing Penfold’s luxury red and white wines in tasting flights complete with expert roaming sommeliers espousing knowledge on Penfold’s illustrious history.

“ The Penfolds Conservatory will be the ideal location to relax and unwind during the tournament and experience exceptional wine and delicious food”, said Ben Culligan, Marketing Director ANZ, Treasury Wine Estates.

Onsite, Treasury Wines Estates’ successful Squealing Pig brand will be showcased at a pop-up bar at the Grand Slam Oval and at licensed venues across the precinct where spectators can purchase Squealing Pig wines and Ginsecco cans.

Meanwhile, Canadian Club is celebrating the extension of its successful seven-year partnership with the Australian Open by re-signing as the Official Dark Spirit partner for a new multi-year partnership.

The C.C. Racquet Club pop-up bar will return to its premium location on the upper terrace of Birrarung Marr. Guests can watch the tennis on big screens in a buzzing atmosphere with DJ vibes and C.C.s from the bar or visit the other Canadian Club Bar located on Grand Slam Oval in the Rod Laver Arena zone.

“The Australian Open will continue to be a key partnership for the brand, and we’re proud to be able to extend our long-term partnership with Tennis Australia,” said Trent Chapman, Marketing Director.

The Australian Open beer partner, Peroni will also celebrate their collaboration with the Grand Slam through their Italian-style activations including the custom-designed Peroni Aperitivo Bar at Grand Slam Oval with direct access to Rod Laver Arena.

The space draws inspiration from classic Italian architecture with a crisp blue and white palette, creating a Mediterranean courtside oasis while the iconic Peroni blue ribbon is present through the shape of the bar, the furniture and a series of striking custom-designed “blue ribbon seating areas”.

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