Each year, one of the most exclusive and coveted tickets at the U.S. Open is not for courtside seats, but for access to the Grey Goose VIP Lounge, where celebs, influencers and media pass through for the duration of the storied tennis tournament. This year, Grey Goose is opening their VIP Lounge to anyone, via the metaverse. You can join via a laptop; an Oculus is not necessary.
In addition to hosting guests in-person, Grey Goose has recreated its VIP Suite as the Virtual MetaVIP Lounge in Decentraland. The brand’s first-ever metaverse activation is now live and will run through the duration of the matches, ending on Sept. 12.
“This is our first real foray into the metaverse,” Aleco Azqueta, Grey Goose vice president of marketing, North America, says. “We’ve been talking for a long time about how we wanted to show up with Grey Goose. We know it’s an important touch point for our fans.”
While the metaverse is still considered as being in the early stages of development, brands such as Grey Goose are taking the plunge with fan-friendly activations.
“There’s a lot of buzz around the metaverse,” Azqueta says. “The way we were thinking about it is: if you were working for a company in the ‘90s, it’s like, oh do you need a website? Maybe 15 years ago, companies said, do you think we need a Facebook page? [The metaverse] is where fans of our brand are going to be interacting in the future. Many of them are already there now.”
The adventure in the Decentraland Grey Goose lounge begins with an age-verification, after which players enter a large tennis ball-style space. Once inside, players are greeted by Gustav, a friendly tour guide goose. Visitors are then invited to play a game inspired by the Grey Goose Honey Deuce, the official drink served at the matches.
The Honey Deuce is, to many fans, integral to the U.S. Open experience. Made with Grey Goose vodka, Chambord, lemonade and a whimsical garnish of melon cut to look like tiny edible tennis balls, about one Honey Deuce is sold every three seconds throughout the tournament. In 2021, 268,000 Honey Deuces were sold at the Open, up from 259,660 in 2019. (There were no spectators allowed during the 2020 season.)
After completing a game in which you “find” the melon balls, your avatar heads over to the bar, where you can learn how to make the drink. Players are treated to a quick cocktail lesson led by an avatar of real-life Grey Goose global brand ambassador Joe McCanta. There’s also a chance to win collectible avatar wearables and even tickets to next year’s Open. (No, you can’t watch actual tennis matches from inside Decentraland.)
If joining people in a virtual world to chat, play games and have “drinks” seems odd, consider that is precisely what happened in the early days of the 2020 pandemic lockdowns.
“During the pandemic, people were having virtual happy hours in their homes via apps,” Azqueta says. “That really wasn’t happening pre-pandemic. The metaverse is becoming a place to gather and hang out. I do think this is going to continue to evolve.”