SBJ/August 31 - September 6, 1998/No Topic Name

Caddies, sportswear maker happy after striking a B.U.M. deal

Sportswear manufacturer B.U.M. has found a way to tap into golf's desirable demographics without paying the sponsorship and endorsement fees demanded by the game's elite players.

It's climbing on the back of the caddies.

By signing on as an underwriter of the Professional Caddies Association — an alliance of nearly 1,000 tour and club caddies — B.U.M. bought itself tour exposure at a cut-rate price.

As part of the deal, at least 15 caddies will wear B.U.M. apparel — caps, shirts and sometimes slacks — at PGA Tour events each week, with varying numbers wearing the gear at LPGA and Senior Tour events. In exchange, caddies get a cut of the profits from associated merchandise sales, with 25 percent of their money going to the Caddies Association, which provides discounted health insurance, an emergency-assistance fund and other benefits to members, who are both current and former caddies.

Caddies debuted the B.U.M. golf apparel at the PGA Championships in Redmond, Wash., in mid-August, with 20 caddies outfitted. Already, the exposure has paid off. B.U.M. apparel not only was visible on the course, it showed up in highlight footage that has aired since the tournament.

"For B.U.M. equipment, it's a lot of exposure in a market we're trying to get into," said Todd Phipps, director of marketing for Fast Ball Advertising, an Atlanta-based company that handles licensing for B.U.M. "B.U.M. wanted a billboard, certainly. And that's the caddies. But the company also wanted to help out a bunch of guys who have been underappreciated for years."

B.U.M. golf apparel will be targeted at the less affluent — or at least more frugal — segment of the golf market, Phipps said. Because of that, the image of the hard-working, bag-toting half of the player-caddie tandem was an ideal match.

It's also a cheaper way to go for B.U.M. than signing on with players. The more visible players on the PGA Tour command in excess of $1 million for multiyear deals. Rank-and-file players can earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year selling space on their visor, shirt and bag.

"What we're getting is not as great as the exposure you get on a golfer," Phipps said. "But it's good and it's getting a lot better."

The caddies won't receive traditional endorsement fees for wearing the merchandise. Instead, they'll share in any profits from sales at events. With sales goals of about $20,000 for well-attended events, a caddie wearing B.U.M. apparel could expect to earn an extra $100 to $200 per tour stop, said caddies' association founder Dennis Cone. Caddies typically are paid a base fee for the week, plus a share of player earnings. Many pay their own expenses.

"If your player misses a cut and he pays you $500 for the week, that doesn't leave you much to live on," Cone said. "An extra $100 a week may enable you to eat — and order off the right side of the menu."

B.U.M. will have to do without some of the sport's better known caddies, at least at the start. Those caddies, including Tiger Woods' walking partner, Mike "Fluff" Cowan, already have apparel deals that bring in from $10,000 to $20,000 a year, according to golf insiders.

But exposure often has as much to do with time and place as it does with profile. When Woods was paired with little-known Spike McRoy at the Bell South tournament in Atlanta earlier this year, McRoy's caddie, Bob Chaney, delivered B.U.M. extensive exposure because he often was in view when Woods was on the putting green.

When Chaney caddied for Woody Austin in Westchester, Austin scored the Tour's first double-eagle of the year, a shot that got B.U.M. more TV exposure. It was chosen the CBS Shot of the Week.

"B.U.M. has been a tremendous help to us," Cone said. "But they don't own us. There's plenty of opportunities for other companies to jump in."

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