SBD/January 27, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

TaylorMade Looks To Increase Product Sales With Funding For Hack Golf Initiative

TaylorMade's pledge of $5M toward the Hack Golf initiative comes as the company, like many golf manufacturers, is "desperate for more golfers to buy its products and services," according to John Paul Newport of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The purpose of the Hack Golf program is to improve the game by "using social media and other means to crowdsource new ideas, no matter how crazy." One reason why similar initiatives have "largely failed" is that golf "always will be a niche sport, incapable of growing as the shareholders of highflying manufacturers demand." Former USGA Exec Dir David Fay said, "I've always been skeptical that the number of golfers people talked about was real." Other explanations for golf's "dwindling supply of players include increasing time pressure, two-earner families and the poor economy." TaylorMade, which is the primary financial backer of the initiative, already has "signed up a dozen courses to host tournaments" with 15-inch holes. The object is "to speed up putting and reduce the frustration for beginners." TaylorMade-adidas President & CEO Mark King said, "If it works, it works. If it doesn't, we'll move on to something else" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/25).

THE BIG SHOW: In N.Y., Lisa Mickey wrote the PGA Merchandise Show has long been seen "as more than a trade show or a golf convention," as it is "a barometer of the health of the sport." PGA of America President Ted Bishop said that after about five years of slower sales and reduced rounds of play, he "felt renewed energy in the golf business" at last week's event in Orlando. The event "attracted more than 40,000 golf professionals, retailers and golf industry leaders." Among the more than 1,000 companies in attendance, "more than 200 were new to the show." TaylorMade CMO Bob Maggiore said the company's spending at the show was "definitely seven figures" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard offered his "buzz and busts from the Show floor" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/24). In Orlando, Edgar Thompson listed "some things that caught our attention" at the show (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 1/26).

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Bridgestone Golf Exec VP/Marketing & Sales Dan Murphy said of his company’s focus on U.S. expansion, "We're experiencing some nice success in the U.S. market. So we want to make it where we are selling it. And expanding in the U.S. is really good. We’re going to use that message in our marketing this year. We think that the golf consumer is going to respond to that and we’re super proud of it. ... There are some others that spend more on tour, that spend more in advertising. So when we do have something to say, we want to cut through the clutter" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/24).

SPREAD THE WORD:
Wilson Golf President Tim Clarke said of the company's recent efforts, "I think what we’ve done, this last five, six years, is we’ve actually gotten more to speaking to the consumer about our products. ... [We're] still making world-class products, but actually telling the consumer about it and marketing it in a consumer-centric kind of way." Clarke said of signing pros as company ambassadors, "We play in the middle sector of golf. We’re not at the elite sector. … I think there is a connection, a family feel. ... So I think the players we sign represent the DNA of Wilson as an overall company." Clarke said of the company's global plans, "Our strongest marketplace is in Europe. What’s interesting in Europe, they don’t have the super big [store] off course. So the player still is playing the game in his club and he's buying from his professional. And to me, that is one of the big things we kind of got to get back to" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 1/24).
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