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SBD/June 21, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
Rory McIlroy Could See Sponsorship Portfolio Jump Significantly After U.S. Open Win
Published June 21, 2011
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U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy has “won a coveted place in line to score a sponsorship portfolio on par with that" of Tiger Woods, according to Paul Tharp of the N.Y. POST. Sources said that McIlroy prior to the victory “had just four sponsors in relatively modest deals totaling around $10 million, with some set to expire in coming months.” He is repped by International Sports Management’s Chubby Chandler, and McIlroy's sponsorship roster includes Titleist, Oakley and watchmaker Audemars Piguet. The hats and shirts he wore in the tournament “advertised Dubai-based hotel chain Jumeirah, whose sponsorship is up for renewal this year.” Engage Marketing President & Chief Solutions Officer Kevin Adler said, "The hat and the shirt each are going to become two of the most valuable pieces of real estate in golf. He's the image sponsors want for the young end of the luxury market. He's the leader of the young guns influencing the game today" (N.Y. POST, 6/21). McIlroy continues to draw praise for his victory, and Horrow Sports Ventures CEO Rick Horrow said the win could be worth “maybe $20-30 million of incremental endorsement revenue by the end of this calendar year.” Horrow: “If he wins one more major, the sky is the limit” (“Bloomberg Bottom Line,” Bloomberg TV, 6/20).
PLACING THE CALL: In London, Kevin Garside notes Chandler’s phone is "ringing off the hook with blue-chip backers wanting to pin their logos to the McIlroy mast.” But Chandler said, “We don’t need more exposure. He is 22. We don’t want him to get to 25 and be like everybody else. That’s why he does not play too many tournaments. There has never been an urgency to do anything.” Chandler noted there are “two clothing companies who want to take off all the logos and pay more for it." Chandler: "But that has to take place over a period of time. We’ve also batted back a few things recently, to take stock of where we are.” Garside writes McIlroy is “a great figurehead and is going to be popular worldwide.” He has “bonuses written into four of his contracts” (London TELEGRAPH, 6/21). The GUARDIAN’s Lawrence Donegan notes McIlroy caught a 6:15am ET flight on Monday morning from DC to Cape Cod, where he “was taking part in an outing for one of the many companies whose logo is emblazoned on his shirt.” There will be “a couple more corporate outings later in the week,” including a stop today in London “to record an appearance on Red or Black, a television quiz show.” It is scheduled to air later this year (GUARDIAN, 6/21).
THE SUN WILL COME OUT... In L.A., Andrew Khouri reports Oakley was "quick to capitalize" on its sponsorship of McIlroy, putting an image of an "exuberant McIlroy" on its homepage yesterday along with a "note of congratulations." The company also "issued 'a proud salute' in a news release." Marketing experts indicated that McIlroy's win is a "golden opportunity for Oakley ... providing the company a chance to show off and talk about its budding apparel lines, designed for athletes in such activities as mountain biking, surfing and motorsports." Khouri notes Oakley is "hoping that the connection with McIlroy will shine a spotlight on its clothing lines." McIlroy just signed with Oakley in December, and 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing Group VP/Business Development Dany Berghoff said that the benefits Oakley sees from the deal "will depend on McIlroy sustaining his success and how often he plays in the United States" (L.A. TIMES, 6/21). Oakley CEO Colin Baden said, “Everybody knows us as a sunglass company. ... We want to get to be known for what we do in our other categories, specifically golf apparel. And Rory is just an incredible pace car for our company to do that and deliver that message to the world.” CNBC’s Darren Rovell noted McIlroy during Sunday’s final round had the sunglasses “on the back of his head,” and asked if that would “minimize what he can do” for Oakley. Baden: “Our main business is quickly becoming everything but sunglasses and Rory’s new to optics. If you look at the field had the sun been out, you would have half the field wear our product” (“The Call,” CNBC, 6/20). Oakley today runs a full-page ad in USA Today congratulating McIlroy for his victory, while Audemars Piguet has a McIlroy-themed ad running in today's N.Y. Times (THE DAILY).
CHECKING THE SCOREBOARD: According to N-Score data from Nielsen Media/E-Poll, which aims to evaluate potential endorsement effectiveness, McIlroy's score over the last 12 months is just below that of other golfers such as Bubba Watson, Natalie Gulbis and Matt Kuchar, and just above Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Ian Poulter. Looking across all active athletes, McIlroy scores equivalent to Browns RB Peyton Hillis, 76ers F Elton Brand, Red Sox LF Carl Crawford and NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger. The characteristics in which McIlroy scored highest were confident and down-to-earth (THE DAILY).