Web.com, an online marketing and web design service, will immediately replace Nationwide as the umbrella sponsor of the PGA Tour’s developmental tour. Web.com, based in Jacksonville, just 20 miles from the PGA Tour’s Ponte Vedra HQs, will assume sponsorship today, meaning this week’s event in Newburgh, Ind., will be the first on the Web.com Tour. Nationwide had been the umbrella sponsor since ‘02, but the insurance company told the Tour in late ‘10 that it would end its sponsorship when the contract ran out at the end of the ‘12 season, or earlier if the PGA Tour found a replacement. Web.com, which represents new money coming into the sport in a nontraditional category, was willing to take over the sponsorship immediately and industry sources say the company’s spend will range from $10-13M per year over the 10-year term of the contract. Web.com’s activation will be centered around a heavy advertising spend on Golf Channel, which broadcasts all Web.com Tour events, and on-the-ground workshops designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses with their online marketing efforts. Web.com CEO David Brown said the company intends to put “staff in every local market” that hosts tournaments. “We need a big footprint to talk to all 3 million of our customers and entertain them,” Brown said. An early idea is to have staff go to all or many of the 27 Web.com Tour events and conduct workshops for business owners. CMO Jason Teichman characterized it as “a moving infrastructure of people who will set up shop” at Web.com Tour events, invite local business leaders and show them “the resources they need to” market themselves online. The deal also gives Web.com extensive hospitality at both Web.com Tour and PGA Tour events. The company has a sponsorship presence with the Jaguars, but otherwise has not marketed itself through sports before. CAA Sports’ golf division is representing Web.com on the deal.
GOLF-THEMED ADVERTISING IN THE WORKS
: Web.com already works with a creative agency -- R2C, Portland -- on its TV advertising, and Teichman said a new phase of golf-themed advertising is in the works. He said there are not currently plans to sign any of the PGA Tour pros as endorsers, but the company looks forward to working with many of the players on their online strategy. “Part of our analysis through this process was to look at the top 50 tour players as a small business entity and evaluate ways they could optimize their online marketing presence. “Many of the top 50 players don’t have a website,” Teichman said. “Many of them don’t have a Facebook page or they’re not on Twitter. Some have none of that. Each player is a small business and they need an online marketing presence. We want to help them be successful.”