Procter & Gamble recently announced a new sponsorship with the NFL for its Old Spice and Head and Shoulders brands.
The League considers this a new “locker room” sponsorship, and it very cleverly puts these brands at the point where they will be “used,” and offering positive positioning for the brands with the NFL’s male audience.
I thought this enterprising sponsorship could apply to golf tournament sponsorship, so I asked tournament management and sponsorship expert John Marovich of Bruno Event Team to offer his insights on this sponsorship relative to golf.
Bruno is a respected Birmingham sports marketing firm that manages all aspects of important PGA Tour, Champions and LPGA tournaments. John also was a Gatorade sports marketing manager and tournament director for the Royal Caribbean Golf Classic in Miami.
1. What is your assessment of this type of unique sponsorship?
As you know, the economic climate requires tournaments and sponsors to seek non-traditional strategies to get business results. This is especially challenging as companies fear the reputation issues of sponsorship and entertainment. However, brands must continue to market unique opportunities where it makes sense. I admire the P&G sponsorship because it puts its brands where they are being used and makes perfect sense. Gatorade had a similar objective with on-field sponsorship. Our thought was that NFL players drinking Gatorade demonstrated its effectiveness for all other athletes, old or young, pros and amateurs.
2. Are you aware of and considering different sponsor opportunities?
Absolutely. We are considering any and all opportunities using innovative strategies to create more impact.This means going beyond sponsoring a hole or Pro-Am sponsorship or even logo identity. We are pressed now to show how a tournament can be a traffic driver, build reputation, community goodwill and even recruit exceptional employees.
School poster contests, symposium with young professionals and golf clinics with influential female business executives are just a few examples of these innovations. Bruno Event Team is working strategically with companies and brands to use their tournament assets as incentives, awards and lead generators for employees, influencers and customers. These strategies allow sponsors to deepen and broaden their relationships with all important constituencies and beyond headquarters.
3. Can you offer some examples of your clients who are doing this well?
I appreciate what Principal Financial, 3M and Regions Bank have included in their tournament marketing plans.
Principal makes its Principal Charity Classic the cornerstone of promoting Des Moines as a great place to work and play for families and executives of all ages. The company hosted a young professional’s business symposium with a keynote speech by Principal CEO Griswell and author of The Adversity Paradox. The speech was followed by a “speed counseling” The symposium was topped it off with a networking cocktail reception. Hundreds attended, and Principal gained many potential clients.
The 3M Championship hosts golf clinics for business women who influence office product purchases. This lead generation and conversion tool was a savvy and effective tournament extension.
Regions Charity Classic introduced their tournament into schools across the entire state of Alabama with a Junior Poster Contest. Students submitted artwork with specific requirements to include tournament name, date and location. The concept was to create awareness and excitement with students, teachers, parents in addition to corporations and golf fans.
The contest was open to students, K-5, and the winner’s artwork would receive the title of “Official Poster of the Regions Charity Classic. The winner’s school was to receive a technology package and cash reward. Second and third place winners also received awards.
4. What can golf sponsors and tournament organizers learn from this?
I think they can learn that a tournament can be a living, proactive strategy for unifying and accomplishing sales, marketing and community relations goals. Golf tournaments can be more than just entertainment for the passionate male or female family member. Many events are creating family fun zones, autograph alleys, special parking privileges and memorabilia that grow a tournament’s appeal and encourage everyone to engage a tournament.
5. What do sponsors really get from these more creative strategies?
In today’s tough business environment of trust and concern, the results for sponsors are endless. These strategies allow for 1) Engaging new and existing fans, sponsors and communities 2) Showcasing genuine community involvement and support and 3) Expanding “family” experiences, allowing mom, dad and kids be entertained, thus nurturing future customers. The tournament sponsorship then becomes more fulfilling, relevant and important in business, community and fans’ minds.
6. What is missing in the public and media’s mind about sponsorships?
A sponsorship is like any investment. It must be approached strategically and creatively. And sponsorship skeptics and critics need to understand the value a tournament brings, especially in funding many programs that would go unsupported without the proceeds from a local tournament.
In Des Moines alone, the Principal Charity Classic supports numerous children’s charities in arts, education and even the simplest idea of funding field trips, which can be so important in a child’s education.
Tournaments bring business to local suppliers and vendors which is essential, especially in this economy. I think it is important for the public and media to look at the overall economic impact an event has on a local community. These visitors are spending money in restaurants, shopping, and staying in area hotels.
All of these incremental dollars are vital to economic development initiatives and tourism. Additionally, national television coverage showcases a host community/state to millions of households in the U.S. and internationally. Tournament proceeds also can generate much needed dollars for countless charities who need support now more than ever.
Smart, savvy advice for golf sponsors and tournaments. Thanks, John!
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