AmEx Creates Innovative Wimbledon Experiences

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AmEx Creates Innovative Wimbledon Experiences
July 9, 2019
Tennis legend John McEnroe plays the virtual reality game Champion’s Rally featuring Andy Murray at the American Express Tennis Fan Experience at Wimbledon 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
GETTY IMAGES FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS

 

The act of walking through the gates and past the ivy-clad buildings off London’s Church Road throughout the site of The Championships, Wimbledon offers a singular sports experience. Now, nearly one year after American Express announced its partnership with The All England Lawn Tennis Club, the financial company has fully embraced its newest sponsorship opportunity, activating on the southwest London site for the 2019 tournament, running through 14, creating a mix of their own experiences to add to the traditions. 

 

And American Express is doing it in style, hosting the largest on-site activation ever seen at the tournament while creating a mixture of experiences and activations on the grounds for the 470,000 annual visitors. 

 

“We know our customers are living global lives,” says Deborah Curtis, vice president and head of global brand experiences and partnerships at American Express. “Tennis is an incredible passion point among our customers. We have a tremendous number of customers in the UK market or those who travel in for the Wimbledon experience and we are excited to provide access and experiences to all customers and fans who come from around the world. The global recognition and reputation attract that global audience.” 

Fans enjoy the American Express Tennis Fan Experience at Wimbledon 2019 on July 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
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American Express, going into its 26thyear sponsoring the US Open tennis tournament this August in New York and a U.S. Open golf sponsor for over a decade, wanted to make a splash with its Wimbledon agreement with the goal of “elevating that experience from beginning to end,” Curtis says. 

 

“We love to be really authentic to the on-site experience, so we are bringing tennis in an English garden to life in our fan experience,” she says. One of the highlights includes a new partnership with UK tennis star Andy Murray in the Champions Rally, a virtual-reality experience that allows fans a virtual practice on Wimbledon’s Centre Court alongside Murray, who just recently signed with the company and “is a great representative for us as we come into Wimbledon.” Expect to see more of the Murray-American Express relationship moving forward, even while the virtual Murray provides commentary to participants during the VR offering.

 

Joining with the VR, the brand has created a relaxing, garden-themed space for charging phones, getting sunglasses cleaned and listening to a relaxing script from tennis legend John McEnroe. The tongue-in-cheek offering includes the former hot-headed Wimbledon champion creating a Sleep Story with the app Calm titled “But Seriously, the Rules of Tennis,” featuring McEnroe reading aloud the rules of tennis in “loving detail and slow, soothing tone to lull listeners to sleep.” This 30-minute story aims to calm fans who need a break from the grounds or even provide a few minutes of pleasure amidst a busy day. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 02: The American Express Tennis Fan Experience at Wimbledon 2019 on July 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
GETTY IMAGES FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS

 

“It was a fun way to provide a soothing script in that experience and soak in all of the great things about Wimbledon,” Curtis says. 

 

McEnroe was on board. “What better way to spread a little relaxation at Wimbledon this year than to read the complete rules of tennis in the calmest way I could?” he asks.

 

Along with the fan experience, open to all fans, card members gain access to the American Express lounge with elevated views of the ground not otherwise gained without premium seating access, a spend credit of £20 back on their statement for every £120 spent on the grounds and one of the more historically popular offerings: in-ear radios. 

The American Express Card Member Lounge. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
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American Express started offering complimentary in-ear radios that feature commentary of matches via the local tournament radio channel to card members about 15 years ago at the US open and then a couple of years later at golf’s U.S. Open. During The Championships, radios are available at 10 locations, including a flower cart in the Queue, at the fan experience, at the lounge and at mobile kiosks across the grounds. 

 

“Wimbledon is a great experience for our customer and (the radios) are really relevant to the Wimbledon experience,” Curtis says. “For us it is really about being able to provide a true customer benefit and to hear that insider point of view and hear what is happening all around.” 

 

In the quintessential Wimbledon experience of the Queue outside the grounds, American Express is serving “surprise and delight” breakfasts and has extended its partnership beyond the site with marketing materials for local merchants, pop-up versions of the fan experience at key AmEx corporate clients in London and the London AmEx office. 

Fans pose on the American Express ‘Chair of Champions’ at the Queue outside the Wimbledon grounds. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
GETTY IMAGES FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS

 

“We want to bring the best of Wimbledon alive, onsite and by exciting fans in the surrounding area and beyond,” Curtis says. 

 

When American Express and Wimbledon announced the partnership, they crafted a presale ticket access program, similar to what the company has had in place for about 30 years in the music business. For just over a month in 2018, the presale program offered a number of Wimbledon hospitality packages to card members previously only available to corporate clients. During the tournament, AmEx is also featuring last-minute ticket sales with a limited number of Centre Court tickets available within 48 hours of each session. Platinum and centurion American Express members have premium packages available to them that include access to the private American Express Gold Suite at the No.1 Court complex and special merchandise. 

 

“These are moments in people’s lives where it becomes such a part of their lifestyle,” Curtis says. “We want to back them and offer access to that. We are weaving the right benefits of experience with the right services on site, truly providing that backing that they either may need or not thought about before to make that experience that much richer and better for them.” 

Fans enjoy sunglasses cleaning at the American Express Tennis Fan Experience at Wimbledon 2019. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for American Express)
GETTY IMAGES FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS

 

As American Express — already with a strong position in tennis, golf and music — embraces its London presence, Curtis says the tournament “represents an opportunity with a global stage,” but also recognizes the huge amount of fandom and passion within London and across the UK. “We have an office in London, and it is an important pace to be for American Express,” she says. 

 

When it came time to build the on-site and London experiences around Wimbledon, American Express did have 26 years of history at the US Open to draw from, but at the same time, wanted to approach the partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis Club fresh, creating plans together. 

 

“I’m excited to be able to have American Express serve these incredible fans from beginning to end, whether in the Queue, on site, with local merchants or corporate offices in the UK,” Curtis says. “I’m thrilled to bring the power of such an incredible event to our fans.”  

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