SBD/January 26, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

RBC Seen As One Of Pro Golf's Top Sponsors, But How Long Can It Last?

Kuchar is among slew of golfers who have endorsement deals with RBC
Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada has become a "go-to sponsor for golf marketing properties ranging from players to tournaments," but the question looms as to whether the bank can continue "to open its vault," according to Robert Thompson of GOLF WORLD. RBC this year takes over as the title sponsor of the Heritage event in Hilton Head, and RBC Chief Brand & Communications Officer Jim Little confirmed that the bank has "agreed to new terms on the Canadian Open." Both tournament sponsorships end in '17.  However, whether such "big-ticket buys will allow the company, which spends upwards of $20 million on golf annually, to continue paying a cadre of players endorsement deals remains unclear." Golfers Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar, Fred Couples and Ernie Els have signed endorsement deals with RBC, which has also "replaced Royal Bank of Scotland as an 'official patron' of the PGA of America." Thompson notes RBC "faces tough decisions in 2012." Sources said that RBC's player deals, which "typically start at between $150,000 to $500,000 per golfer annually, are up for negotiations." Some players like Donald, who is currently the world's No. 1-ranked player, "are likely to cost significantly more this time around." Donald was ranked No. 29 when he signed with RBC. However, it is "not all about keeping down costs," as it also is "about smart investing." Little said that sponsoring a European Tour event, with its media buy "linked to Golf Channel, could also be a possibility" (GOLF WORLD, 1/30 issue).

RETURNING TO HIS ROOTS: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie notes golfer Anthony Kim's bag sponsorship with RBC "wasn't renewed, and he has yet to find a new bag sponsor." At the PGA Tour Humana Challenge last week, his "large white staff bag had been replaced by an Oklahoma stand bag." Kim has has "fallen to 96th in the world and hasn't won since 2010" (GOLFWEEK, 1/27 issue).
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