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Jan 19, 2018 • By

Tennis ace Grigor Dimitrov serves up Häagen-Dazs

Tennis star Grigor Dimitrov has been a fan of Häagen-Dazs since he can remember. But the brand team found out that his fandom for the ice cream goes further than most.

“We learned from Grigor that he had this ritual of ordering six scoops to his room to celebrate a tournament win, I was only convinced when the team showed me pictures,” says Matt Salter, business unit director for Häagen-Dazs Europe-Australasia.

It’s that kind of ice cream love that makes him a perfect choice to be Häagen-Dazs’ new global ambassador, just announced, as Dimitrov is competing at the Australian Open, where the brand is an official partner.

“I like to say Häagen-Dazs is my go-to little luxury that I can indulge in even with my strict regime,” Dimitrov says. “It’s a cool classy brand and of course their ice cream tastes amazing so that’s a killer combination.”

The brand team in the UK was introduced to Dimitrov in June 2017 at the pre-Wimbledon tournament at The Queen’s Club in London by their official partners, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

“The Queen’s Club organizers told us there that Grigor was so addicted to our new stick bars that he would ask to take a few back to his hotel every day from the tournament director’s office freezer, in particular Salted Caramel,” says Richard Williams, marketing director for Northern Europe.

About a week after the Queen’s Club Championships, Häagen-Dazs had a sampling event for Morrisons for their limited-edition Strawberries and Cream flavor, the signature pairing of Wimbledon. They asked if Dimitrov would help serve it to fans.

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“Grigor unhesitatingly jumped in to help us out two days before the event – practically unheard of given this was just before his first round match at Wimbledon. It definitely confirmed he was a genuine fan,” says Williams.

Dimitrov served ice cream and posed for photos with shoppers at the activity. Later, following his second round match at Wimbledon, a TV host asked him about his love of ice cream and Dimitrov joked that he ‘could not live’ without Häagen-Dazs.

“I don’t think anyone of us could believe our ears,” says Arjoon Bose, marketing lead for Häagen-Dazs. “Grigor loved working with Häagen-Dazs so much that he said he insisted on doing an encore serving our ice cream at the main Wimbledon parlour during the tournament.”

Logistical challenges prevented that, but the brand came up with another idea. They planned a video shoot with him for social media that had some fun that cheered him up on a day when the infamous London rain stopped play at Wimbledon.

“Despite a tough pre-quarter final loss, Grigor bounced back into good spirits the next day and was his energetic self with that glint-in-his-eye, doing cheeky outtakes when we were shooting the video. He pretty much powered through the pint even when we said, ‘Cut.’ He’s a natural on camera but I’m pretty sure those generous helpings of Strawberries and Cream helped.”

Dimitrov, from Bulgaria, is considered one of the biggest rising stars in tennis. The reigning ATP World Tour Finals champion, he made the semi-finals at the Australian Open last year and is currently the world’s number three in men’s tennis.

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“We’ve been enamored with his fantastic rise and charismatic, genuine personality both on and off the court. You can see the manifestation in him of our corporate purpose of serving the world by Making Food People Love,” says Salter. “Grigor has a genuine place in his heart for our brand. We can’t wait to cheer him on in what promises be a defining period of his young career and create some extraordinary yet authentic stories along the way.’’

Dimitrov is back in Australia hoping to take another big step in his career.

Last week, he took a break from his preparation to serve up his first ice cream flavor creation titled ‘The Häagen-Dazs Slam,’ made with his favorites Belgian Chocolate and Salted Caramel, to tennis fans at the “Häagen-Dazs House” in Melbourne Park.

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He also showed off his target skills with a tennis racquet, hitting a few shots to knock over stacks of Häagen-Dazs pints.

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Dimitrov’s role with the brand in the months ahead will involve participating in a variety of events around the globe and sharing his Häagen-Dazs experiences on social media.

“Being able to debut our partnership at the Australian Open was important to Grigor and his team at the start of the new season,” says Cameron Hardacre, senior marketing manager for Häagen-Dazs in Australia. “Grigor Dimitrov meeting Häagen-Dazs certainly came to be through a mix of spontaneity and serendipity, that’s how some of the best brand narratives happen.”

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