American Express is celebrating its 25th Anniversary as a partner of the USTA and U.S. Open, the company’s longest running sports sponsorship. A contactless payment wristband (Amex Band), the American Express Card Member Club (open to all cardholders) and the American Express Centurion Lounge (for platinum and centurion members) are among the benefits/conveniences available to fans visiting the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center over the next 2 weeks, but the biggest draw has been Super Rally; an interactive tennis gaming experience, featuring Venus Williams. Using custom-designed 3D printed rackets, fans standing in front of life-sized transparent monitors return virtual tennis balls in augmented reality against physical targets with the goal of collecting the most points. Not able to make it out to Queens? Here’s video of JohnWallStreet exhibiting some rare athleticism and working up a sweat playing the AR game; don’t laugh, Dante Hall (a real athlete) did too.
Howie Long-Short: Super Rally is the product of a collaboration between American Express and Momentum Worldwide, a global brand experience agency. The company, which manages upwards of $4 billion in sponsorship assets for top clients like Amex, Coca-Cola and Chevron, resides under the Interpublic Group of Companies (IPG) umbrella. IPG shares are +5.5% (to $23.06) since the company reported that “growth in the U.S. (revenue +4.6%) continued to be strong and international growth accelerated (revenue +7.2%)” during the 2nd quarter, back on June 24.
Fan Marino: After cooling down, I had a chance to connect with Lindsay Ulrey, Director, Global Experiential Marketing & Partnerships at American Express (AXP). I noticed that most Amex activations are geared towards card members, but Super Rally seems to target a younger demographic. Who is the AR experience designed for?
Lindsay: We know that a variety of types of groups of people are coming, so for us it’s about designing an activation that offers something for everybody; especially when we do a huge custom technology build like Super Rally, it’s super important that the skill level is not too advanced. In Super Rally, we have sensors when you walk into the booth that can tell what height you are and sets the skill level accordingly; it also makes sure balls fed aren’t out of reach. If we’re highlighting something big, we want to make sure it’s accessible to kids through people in their 80s and 90s.
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