No fans in the stands at this year’s U.S. Open has implications for nearly every aspect of this year’s event, particularly for its corporate partners. Brands like Ralph Lauren and American Express, among a number of other longtime U.S. Open partners, have been forced to amend their plans to adjust to the current climate.
For Grey Goose, the U.S. Open’s official alcohol sponsor and the brand behind the Honey Deuce, the drink that’s become as synonymous with the event as the Billie Jean Tennis Center itself, that’s meant rethinking how to get its product in the hands of consumers.
Martin de Dreuille, global vice president for Grey Goose, said that when it became clear that the U.S. Open would go ahead without fans three months ago, the brand started to create plans for engaging with fans in a different way.
“This is a very unusual year,” said de Dreuille. “But we knew we needed to find a new way to engage with our audience in bringing that experience to them.”
Those new plans meant that for the first time, Grey Goose would bring the Honey Deuce, a concoction of vodka, lemonade and Chambord, topped off with honeydew melon balls, outside of the stadium. Enter the Honey Deuce Cocktail Kit, a package that comes with all the ingredients needed to make the drink at home, in quantities of eight, 12 or 16. Grey Goose teamed up with Sourced Craft Cocktails to sell the kits online to customers in major metropolitan markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and, of course, the Honey Deuce’s hometown of New York City.
“This year we worked on improving the consumer journey,” said de Dreuille. “We defined each touchpoint very clearly and optimized our message in order to bring the consumers down the funnel. We’ve built a digital ecosystem where social channels, website, search, media partners and ecommerce platform were connected to deliver a consistent experience and optimized our media investment against purchase, resulting in significant conversion increase compared to previous years.”
The kit includes a commemorative cup, a favor that, until now, had only ever been available in the Arthur Ashe stadium. This cup in particular has become something of a status symbol, with fans sharing photos of their cocktails on social media or taking them home after the tournament ends. According to de Dreuille, the hope was that including the cups in the kits and offering them in sizes appropriate for at-home watch parties would help replicate the U.S. Open experience at home and inspire the same actions people often take when attending the event in person.
“I was scrolling on social media today and I saw a lot of people posting about this experience,” said de Dreuille. “This is exactly what what we want them to do, celebrate with others.”
Of course, it also takes advantage of a major pandemic trend: Alcohol delivery services have been booming since the pandemic’s start, with delivery service Drizly reporting growth at six times the levels it saw last year.
Grey Goose is also bringing the drink to the streets of New York City—literally. The brand teamed up with Dante, a New York City eatery, to serve Honey Deuces to customers outside of the stadium. And while there are no fans inside the stadium this year, players are able to sip on the drink in quarantine quarters.