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Drinks brands bet millions on the Melbourne Cup Carnival

Drinks brands bet millions on the Melbourne Cup Carnival

Competition to get a piece of the Melbourne Cup action has been fierce among drinks companies this year.

Pernod Ricard's Mumm and Absolut, Lion's Furphy and James Squire, Beam Suntory's Jim Beam and TWE's Seppelt have all snatched space at Flemington for the four-day carnival.

The 17,000 square metres that makes up the Birdcage is the most famous real estate for corporate hospitality in Australia. It's positioned between what racegoers know as "the Rails" – next to the track on the last turn into the home straight – and "the Nursery" (the site of members' car-boot picnics).

The total cost of a Birdcage marquee is a closely guarded secret, but insiders suggest it costs from $1 million to $2.5 million to lease the space, construct a dwelling and supply catering.

Victorian Racing Club Chair Amanda Elliott  told the AFR last year: "The Birdcage is the most lavish temporary facility on the planet. It has proven itself year after year as THE corporate hospitality event.

"Everyone from the top brass at Royal Ascot and Newmarket to the New York race clubs, Kentucky's Churchill Downs Racing Club, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Japan Racing Association come out each year to comb over our carnival."

This year's Birdcage is gearing up to blow everyone out of the water. VRC ambassador Georgia Connolly said: “The Lexus Design Pavilion is the best marquee I’ve ever seen in the five years I’ve been involved with the Victoria Racing Club. I can’t wait to see it filled with people, sipping champagne, watching the race, appreciating the cars, the design and marvelling at the athleticism of the horses — being track front.” 

Here's a preview of what the drinks companies have planned:

The most extravagant drinks gun in the Birdcage is Mumm.

Since kicking off its involvement with the Melbourne Cup Carnival nine years ago, its Mumm label has grown to be Australia's top selling Champagne - a milestone it finally achieved last year.

"Australia is the biggest market in the world outside of France for Mumm," said Bryan Fry, Pernod Ricard Pacific Managing Director. "People are drinking less but better and they regard Champagne as an affordable luxury."

Fry says having an association with the Cup has been a huge boost to the brand.

"There is no race meeting in the world that captures the attention of the public like the Melbourne Cup," he said. "It's also quite rare to find an event where we can showcase our brand in such a prestigious way. Those platforms are very hard to find globally."

This week, Maison Mumm revealed its Space Odyssey themed marquee for the Birdcage at Melbourne Cup.

The extravagant concept celebrates the recent launch of Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar – the first champagne bottle designed for space travel, making it possible for astronauts and other space travellers to enjoy champagne in the challenging surroundings of zero gravity.

It tops last year's daring installation of a $2.2 million luxury cruising motor yacht at the Birdcage with a nearly 12-metre-high Mumm Rocket this year. 

It was created by a team of over 30 people from Mumm and its partners, including designers, engineers and manufacturers, who brought the bold concept to life after planning it over the last 12 months. 

Fry said: “Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar is an incredibly exciting product innovation that perfectly showcases the pioneering, daring spirit of Maison Mumm. Commercial space flights are really the next evolution in luxury travel, and the idea is something that captures the attention and imagination of the public. It is exciting to us that when this concept becomes reality, Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar is what adventurers will be drinking in space. This is where the idea for the Mumm Space Odyssey marquee was born, and we are very much looking forward to showcasing Mumm Stellar to our guests this Melbourne Cup Carnival.” 

The Mumm Space Odyssey marquee will showcase a bottle of Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar, shipped to Melbourne directly from Paris. 

Additionally, Pernod Ricard's Absolut Electric Avenue activation will offer a unique Absolut experience in The Park, with a human-powered dance floor – the energy from the dance floor powers its LED lights and sound system.

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Treasury Wine Estates has unveiled its two-storey Seppelt Prosecco Bar at Flemington Racecourse. The Seppelt Prosecco Bar in The Park is expecting more than 35,000 visitors over four days of the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival.The bar is situated in The Park at Flemington, while Seppelt Wines will also be the naming rights partner for Stakes Day, the final day of the iconic Melbourne Cup Carnival, in a new deal that saw the winery elevated to Major Partner status with the Club.

Treasury Wine Estates Managing Director, ANZ & Europe, Angus McPherson said he was delighted to elevate Seppelt’s involvement with the Melbourne Cup Carnival: “2018 marks a 40 year anniversary between Seppelt Wines and the Victoria Racing Club and we are delighted to be announced as a Major Partner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the VRC.

“We look forward to celebrating across the 2018 Melbourne Cup Carnival, and in particular on Seppelt Wines Stakes Day, of which we are proud to become the naming rights partner.

“As a producer of premium, sought-after wines, we are delighted to celebrate this significant partnership and showcase our outstanding wines on a world stage as prestigious as Flemington – an icon in Australia’s racing landscape.”

In celebration of Seppelt becoming a Major Partner of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the VRC, the anticipated 2008 vintage of the winery’s coveted Show Sparkling Shiraz will be unveiled in the Seppelt marquee as an exclusive preview release. Setting a global benchmark, Show Sparkling Shiraz is made only in exceptional years, crafted from the finest Victorian Shiraz and has impressed the wine show circuit since the 1940s.

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Lion has announced that its marquee at the Melbourne Cup Carnival will have a Furphy theme this year.

The Victorian-inspired Furphy marquee at Flemington, called ‘The Watering Hole’, will uncover the tale behind the Furphy brand, which started with World War I troops spinning yarns around the famous Furphy Family water tanks.

Furphy replaces Tasmania's James Boag, which has been the lead brand associated with the Victorian Racing Club for the past nine years.

The James Boag’s Premium Celebration Deck will be transformed into The Furphy Deck – a ticketed space during the four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival offering all-inclusive street food and drinks package throughout the day, plus an exclusive outdoor area with seating and umbrellas, DJ and entertainment, betting facilities and bookmaker, and winning post and track views.

Furphy will also have naming rights to the race immediately following the Lexus Melbourne Cup – the Furphy Plate – and a race on AAMI Victoria Derby Day plus race sponsorships on TAB Turnbull Stakes Day, Australia Guineas Day presented by 3AW, and Super Saturday.

The announcement comes as the VRC and Lion announced a new seven-year sponsorship agreement, which comes into effect from August 2019 until the end of the 2025/2026 racing season. It will see Lion become one of the longest serving Major Partners of the VRC.

Lion Beer Australia Managing Director James Brindley said: “We are excited to be able to share the Furphy story with racegoers, in what promises to be a fantastic partnership between two Victorian icons – the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Furphy Refreshing Ale.”

Lion will also have a James Squire Caravan and Furphy Container Bar in The Park.

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Jim Beam has announced a three-year sponsorship agreement that names Jim Beam Black as the official bourbon of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The new partnership, which kicks off this year until the end of the 2020 racing season, will be supported by sponsorship of race 6 with the Jim Beam Black Stakes, the race before the Lexus Melbourne Cup.

In addition, there will be event day signage and on ground activation, as well as the launch of a bespoke cocktail made for the Lexus Melbourne Cup, the ‘Kentucky Spritz’, which includes sparkling wine, Bols Crème De Cassis and soda. The launch of the Kentucky Spritz is to create a light and refreshing drink for all to enjoy while enjoying the sun out on the track.

“Jim Beam Black is honoured to partner with the Victoria Racing Club and such a prestigious event, so we want to raise a glass to all Australians who are touched by the special moments that only the Melbourne Cup Carnival can deliver," said Trent Chapman, Marketing Director Beam Suntory Australia and New Zealand. 

"At Jim Beam we pride ourselves on award winning whiskey which is the perfect pairing for the celebration of the race that stops the nation”, 

Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson added: “It is with great pleasure that we welcome Jim Beam Black as the Official Bourbon partner of the Victoria Racing Club and Melbourne Cup Carnival. It is also great news that Jim Beam has chosen the Carnival as a key pillar in raising its premium bourbon focus which racegoers will be able to enjoy at venues across Flemington during Cup Week.”