SBD/August 14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Be Yourself: Jason Dufner's Everyman Persona Works Well For His Sponsors

Dufner's appeal to average golf fan is "a sponsor's dream"
PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner may not appear to have the "attributes we normally ascribe to an athlete or celebrity endorser," but he is "a sponsor's dream," according to Monte Burke of FORBES. Dufner is "a bit more like us than your average celebrity endorser," and that is a "good thing." He actually fits his current sponsors "very well." Dufner's sponsors include Georgia-based Greenway Medical, a medical records company. That is a "basic, somewhat boring but very necessary business," and Dufner is a "perfect fit here." Likewise, he endorses Comcast Business' high-speed Internet offering, something users do not need "to be flashy." Apparel sponsor Perry Ellis fits Dufner because he is "no fashion model," but neither are "99% of the people who wore Perry Ellis clothing." Titleist and FootJoy are both "brands for serious golfers" (FORBES.com, 8/12). Both Titleist and FootJoy run full-page ads in this week's Golf World congratulating Dufner for his first win in a major tournament (THE DAILY).

ALREADY LOOKING TO LEAVE? BLOOMBERG NEWS' Mason Levinson reports Dufner's win last weekend "fortified his plan to retire from golf in the next few years." He said, "The plan is coming together really well. I've got a five-year exemption now, so that would take me to 41. Maybe I'll push it back one year." Levinson notes Dufner's "emotion-free demeanor on the course and everyman appearance off it has made him an Internet star, placing Dufner in prime position to capitalize on a lifestyle that he's not sure how long he'll want." Dufner: "There's other things to life than chasing a golf ball. ... Vijay Singh, he's a golf junkie. Lee Trevino: golf junkie. Tom Kite: golf junkie. I'm not a golf junkie" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/14).

CAN'T ESCAPE IT: Dufner this week is making the media rounds, and an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" included a discussion about "Dufnering," an Internet meme that went viral after he was photographed slouching on the floor in a children's classroom this spring. Dufner said, "It's amazing with social media these days how fast things can get around. That was the No. 1 trending thing on Twitter there for a couple days actually and people keep sending me stuff. I'm fine with people sending me stuff, but it's weird when you get into their pets. That's a little weird to me." CNBC's Kelly Evans noted, "It's a weird world out there" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 8/13).
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