Friday, October 12, 2007

PGA Needs more exposure

Hard to believe huh? To even suggest that a sport with an icon like Tiger Woods needs more exposure seem ridiculous.

Or does it? The PGA with Tiger is a machine. The PGA without Tiger is the local State Am.

In my opinion one of the reasons is because the public has not been communicated who else is out there. There can not be a less endorsed group of high profile athletes as the PGA tour - sans Tiger. To give you a strong parallel, they are NASCAR in the late eighties.

In NASCAR in the late eighties, the major corporate sponsors were Valvoline, STP, Shell, Skoal, and maybe Holley (carburetors). Now, let's look around at some of the NASCAR title sponsors - M&Ms, Tide, Kellogg's, US Army, Home Depot, and Budweiser. Most of the major team sponsors of NASCAR in the past were centered around "cars". Today they center around the top consumer products on earth.

Now, fast forward to the PGA. The major sponsors are either tied to golf in some sort of way or some obscure financial advising company. Those sponsors are certainly worthwhile and have provided a significant source of revenue for the PGA players, but I believe the tour needs to figure out ways to break into the consumer product categories. Hell, they copied NASCAR's playoff system in their FedEx Cup, why not follow their business model pertaining to sponsors?

Let's take someone close to Vanderbilt, Brandt Snedeker. All American at Vanderbilt, soon-to-be PGA Rookie of the Year, and top ten on the money list for 2007. Not bad. What would be a perfect product for him to endorse that might fit the above mentioned challenges? (look at him) See that damn million dollar smile? How about Crest? Brandt may or may not continue to have outstanding success on the golf course, but his smile is going nowhere. By Brandt leveraging Crest, and assuming Crest activates around him, he could truly become a household name - at least every time you go to brush your teeth. A mom might bump into his stand up cutout at the grocery store and wonder who is this floppy-haired guy?

NASCAR also does a phenomenal job of getting their drivers to interact with their respective sponsor's clients/fans, thus enhancing the relationship tenfold. In our Brandt example, all those with a Crest toothbrush are allowed entry into an exclusive event with Brandt, or private golf demonstration, etc.

One final brilliant NASCAR strategy that the PGA should copy was the ABC primetime reality series inside the lives of four NASCAR families. Like The Contender meets the Bachelor. As much of a non-NASCAR fan as I am, if I am stuck watching a race I am definitely pulling for Pablo Montoya who apparently is despised by everyone for his aggressiveness. I would say I am a casual PGA fan, but how much do I really know about Jim Furyk? Or Vijay Singh? Zero.

Bottom line, for the PGA to better "Tiger proof" its tour, some creative awareness might need to be discussed in order to create the NASCAR version of the links.

Take care.

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