SBD/Issue 96/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Future Unclear For Entitlement Of PGA Tour Buick Invitational

Tiger Woods (r) Will Not Play In Buick 
Invitational For First Time Since 1998
The "crisis plaguing the automobile industry" has put the PGA Tour Buick Invitational's namesake into question, and "no one knows for sure what will happen" when the car company's entitlement expires next year, according to Marc Figueroa of the NORTH COUNTY TIMES. Buick has title sponsored the event, which teed off this morning at Torrey Pines, since '92, and Tournament Dir Tom Wilson said Buick has "shared with us that they intend to honor their agreement." Wilson added, "We've even had discussions about extending the relationship. But time will tell how things will shake out in the future." Wilson noted that tournament officials have had discussions with "other potential sponsors, but will not pursue them until they learn what Buick's plans are for the future." Wilson indicated that the event's "corporate hospitality sales" are down about 20% from last year (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/4).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: In San Diego, Tim Sullivan reports Buick has "eliminated alcohol from its hospitality areas" at this week's event, and the 25 automobile dealers who competed in yesterday's Pro-Am "did so largely on their own dime." GM this month will receive $13.4B in federal bailout money, and company execs are "acutely wary of appearing wasteful."  Buick Golf Marketing Manager Larry Peck: "We want to err on the side of caution. We still need to advertise our products. In fact, you could argue right now, probably more than ever. But we're taking a very prudent approach." Wilson said, "Buick has given us every indication that they're going to continue with their sponsorship for 2010, and we have no reason to believe that they won't do that. They still have to market their product, still have to sell their product, still have to get it out in front of people." But Wilson added, "Economics is economics. If they can't afford to do it, that may change golf." PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Relations Ty Votaw: "Given what we're going through in the economy, it's a little early in this process to make predictions about what might happen at the end of 2010." Votaw noted that the PGA Tour has "yet to negotiate a tournament sponsorship deal for less money than was paid previously" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 2/5).

AN ABSENT ROAR: Golf Channel's Steve Sands reported golfer Tiger Woods, who has won the Buick Invitational six times, is the "poster child" for this year's event despite not entering it due to his recovery from knee surgery. Woods is featured on event posters and other promo items, and it has "become somewhat of a controversy in San Diego." However, it is "customary for the defending champion of a PGA Tour event to be promoted by tournament officials." Woods had played in the Buick Invitational every year since '98, and San Diego Union-Tribune golf writer Tod Leonard said the "market didn't really adjust to the fact that Tiger wasn't going to be here." Leonard: "People still wanted him to be here, hoped he was going to be here and now he's not, so there's a little bit of a hole really in this tournament" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 2/3).

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