The days of lavish Birdcage marquees for Mumm Champagne may be over, as Australia adjusts to a post-COVID-19 world.
Following months of lockdown restrictions in Melbourne, the Victorian Government rejected the Victoria Racing Club’s proposal to safely host members, general public and owners trackside for Cup Week 2020.
Furphy, Seppelt Wines and Mumm all hosted marquees at The Birdcage in 2019. This year the bars in Australia’s most prestigious corporate hospitality real estate are shuttered.
The gold, 14-metre winged cage usually found in the Birdcage enclosure has been moved to the front lawn and will host a Network 10 broadcast throughout Cup Week.
The race that stops a nation has been integral to the Champagne House’s success in Australia and more than 275,000 glasses of champagne are usually consumed at Flemington during Cup week.
As The Age reports: “Prior to its sponsorship, Mumm had a mere 4% market share locally. Now it has 23% and is number one.”
But, after building everything from a spaceship to a Parisian hotel for the Mumm marquee in previous years, Global marketing director for Pernod Ricard winemakers Eric Thomson told The Australian the drinks company believes such celebrations are no longer appropriate.
“I don’t know what we will do next year … but we will want to create spectacular not a spectacle,” he said.
Thomson explained that consumers want more personalised and smaller experiences. In response, the Melbourne Cup Carnival’s official Champagne is hosting intimate lunches and creating virtual experiences for the event.
Mumm launched its Melbourne Cup celebrations this week at Pier One on Sydney Harbour. Model Georgia Fowler (above) sabered a bottle in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In Sydney, it’s holding a pre-race champagne masterclass, streamed live from the Sydney Opera House and led by brand ambassador Emmanuel de Madre.
An event will also be hosted at Pier One on Melbourne Cup Day with an array of private suites and exclusive areas available for small group bookings. Guests including Michael Klim and Lisa Wilkinson will enter the hotel via a red carpet and be greeted by the G.H.Mumm bell hops.
In Brisbane, the brand is hosting a sold-out lunch in Brisbane at the Terrace rooftop bar at South Bank’s Emporium Hotel.
In Melbourne, at-home celebration packs have been created with Victoria Racing Club for fans to host their own events. Melbourne Cup Carnival ambassador Nadia Bartel said: “I love how inclusive it will be this year, with all aspects of the experience now accessible to everyone, wherever they live and whatever restrictions are in place.”
“What the online experience enables people to do is to feel comfortable experiencing the Melbourne Cup in whichever way they choose to celebrate … we think it’s a great way to democratise things,” Thomson added.
“Those more targeted specific events and cities that feel a little bit more intimate I think we’re going see more of those moving forward.”
It’s also cost effective – a marquee and catering can cost more than $1 million over the four days of the Melbourne Cup carnival.
Mumm is continuing with its tradition of creating a Melbourne Cup cocktail. This year it is The Mumm Royale (above), featuring Lillet Blanc, Beefeater Gin, lemon and cranberry juice and, of course, Champagne.
Home consumption of Champagne is also on the rise. While sales of champagne fell away at the start of lockdown, they have bounced back and are higher now than at this time last year.
‘‘Consumers are celebrating everyday moments more than they have in the past,” Thomson told The Age. “It’s a great time to appreciate the ability to get together, which we can appreciate so much more this year.’’
Here is a gallery of some of Mumm’s previous lavish Birdcage creations: