US Open Launches New Social Activation Campaign: ‘Be Open’
August 26, 2020
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 26, 2020 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced the launch of its new social responsibility campaign, “Be Open,” leveraging the stage of the 2020 US Open to promote and amplify important messages of progress, positivity and equality.
“Be Open” honors champions of equality, both on and off the court, and is designed to inspire us all to have a more “open” mind towards all things and all people. The multi-faceted campaign includes film, a social content series, broadcast exclusives, and a first-ever activation with an array of Black artists showcasing their talent and work for the world to experience.
“We are living in unprecedented times that have brought to the forefront the need for people to work together to solve the problems we face,” said Patrick Galbraith, USTA Chairman of the Board and President. “It is our hope that the USTA’s ‘Be Open’ campaign will inspire the tennis community and the broader society to reflect on all we can do to solve these challenging issues together.”
“The US Open is our sport’s most powerful stage, and we are using this stage to show tennis’ commitment to social justice and important societal issues,” said Mike Dowse, USTA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director. “These are all critically important issues, whether it’s the Black Lives Matter movement, or the on-going need to support gender equality and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. It also affords us the opportunity to recognize in our own way, all the frontline heroes who have helped us fight this terrible pandemic. We hope that together, we can rise above the adversity put before us in 2020, and make all of us, and this country, stronger and healthier in 2021 and beyond.”
“Be Open” will launch with a manifesto film premiering during the global broadcast of Opening Night of the US Open on August 31. The content features powerful scenes of equality champions from years past, as well as those who continue that cause today. The manifesto will be narrated by GRAMMY® Award nominated singer/songwriter, activist, and actress Andra Day, and set to her rousing anthem “Rise Up,” which also will be performed by Day as part of the Opening Night celebration. The video honors champions who have taught the world that when you keep an open mind, big changes can happen. Prior to her appearance, 13-year-old singer Keedron Bryant will perform the National Anthem.
The “Be Open” launch will quickly follow with a content series around the themes of equality, including women’s equality, Black tennis players breaking barriers and tennis’ support of the LGBTQ+ community. Emmy, Tony & GRAMMY® Award Winner Billy Porter will narrate the US Open Pride video, as well as the video that celebrates Black tennis players, while Day narrates the video promoting gender equality. These videos will run on US Open broadcasts and live on US Open digital and social platforms throughout the two weeks of the tournament, which runs from August 31 to September 13.
“The USTA understands its inherent responsibility to use our sport to drive equality and push for change,” said Nicole Kankam, Managing Director, Marketing, USTA. “The US Open has a definitive place on the global stage and we’ll continually strive to rise up against the issues of injustice and divisiveness to embrace our long-standing values.”
During the tournament, through an activation referred to as “Black Lives to the Front,” the USTA plans to bring racial equality to the forefront by commissioning 18 Black artists to create original works of art that will be displayed on front row courtside seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The artwork will be viewable to everyone around the world consistently on screen, reaching millions as people tune into the tournament. Further, fans will be able to hear more from the artists about their own personal journeys, through social media and online at USOpen.org/BeOpen.
In support of this initiative, the USTA also will create special activities around gender equality, anchored by a recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Original Nine – the nine women players who helped to launch women’s professional tennis in 1970. These trailblazing women set the course for women’s professional sports, and their lasting impact will be discussed by a panel of non-tennis pro athletes including professional golfer Annika Sörenstam, race car driver Jackie Heinricher, professional softball player AJ Andrews and WNBA player Iman McGee-Stafford. The panel was created in partnership with the SheIS organization, which the USTA teamed with last year for the “Women Worth Watching” campaign. These four women, along with International Tennis Hall-of-Famer Billie Jean King and moderator Hannah Storm, will discuss issues surrounding gender equality, with the filmed discussion being released September 10, the day of the Women’s Singles Semifinals.
In addition, before each evening session of the 2020 US Open, the USTA will honor society’s frontline champions, notably health care workers from around the world, by teaming them up with tennis champions like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams and Billie Jean King to recognize all they have done in the fight against COVID-19. Titled “Champions to Champions,” the virtual conversations between the front line workers and tennis champions will serve as the lead-in the coin toss prior the first match of every night session.
The USTA’s creative agency, McGarrybowen, ideated the “Be Open” platform and has worked closely with the USTA to bring the program to life. The agency scripted and created the videos being used in the content series, created the “Champions to Champions” concept, and identified and curated the artists and artwork being used in the “Black Lives to the Front” activation.
To amplify all aspects of the social activation campaign through artist identification and procurement, the USTA recently entered into a collaboration with Roc Nation, the powerhouse sports and entertainment firm. Roc Nation provided strategic counsel throughout the campaign’s development, working closely with the USTA’s longtime executive producer of entertainment Fiur Productions.
All aspects of the “Be Open” campaign will be highlighted and featured in the scrim designs that will decorate both Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium during the 2020 US Open. The scrim will cover the lower bowl seating in both stadiums, and the social messaging will appear in the four corners of each stadium on a rotational basis during the two-week tournament. The complete content series and all activations will be housed on the US Open’s official website, USOpen.org.