SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/This Weeks Issue

ABC/ESPN concoct blitz for N.Y. PGA Tour event

The PGA Tour, ABC and ESPN are teaming up to provide an unprecedented local/national one-two promotional punch for the New York City-area tourney that the networks will televise Thursday through Sunday, ranging from local late-night highlights programs to tie-ins with ABC TV shows.

If the campaign for the Buick Classic proves successful, it could lead to similar efforts between the PGA Tour and ABC/ ESPN for other tour events in major markets next season. It also could serve as a blueprint for similar projects in the future between the tour and its other television partners.

Elements of the PGA Tour/ ABC/ESPN project will include late-night (starting at 11:30 p.m. ET) Buick Classic highlights shows airing Thursday and Friday on New York City's WABC-TV, an ABC owned-and-operated station; live cut-ins on ABC's "Good Morning America" of Wednesday's pro-am event ("GMA's" Jack Ford will play with Tiger Woods in the pro-am); extensive on-site hospitality for clients and customers of the tour and ABC/ ESPN; a party Wednesday at Gracie Mansion, where New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani resides; tune-in ads Thursday in USA Today and The New York Times; Buick Classic scores cycled on the Times Square ticker; an appearance at the tournament by the ESPN interactive truck, which includes a replica of the "SportsCenter" set inside; and on-site tournament reports from a "SportsCenter" correspondent.

One other possibility: an appearance by a tour player this week on the ABC program "The View," which targets female viewers.

Promotional efforts are already under way at the ESPN Zone restaurant in Times Square, at espn.com and at New York-based WABC-AM and Radio Disney. In addition, Buick Classic promo ads have been running extensively on the Times Square JumboTron.

"It's an example of how an integrated marketing program and concept can work with a league and with an advertiser in a local market," said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales. "We're looking at the potential of doing this in other markets with the tour." The most likely sites would be major advertising markets where ABC has an owned-and-operated station.

Beyond that, the idea could stretch to the tour's other TV partners. "It's something we would like to try to do with all of our television partners ultimately, in as many markets as we can," said Donna Orender, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of television, production and new media.

Erhardt and Orender refused to divulge the monetary value of the promotion, but industry sources estimate that it's in the low six figures.

In 1999, ABC/ESPN acquired the TV rights to the Buick Classic — which is run by the tour's Championship Management division — and since then, according to Orender, the tour has wanted "to take advantage of the New York market in a much bigger way."

On Friday, for example, ABC/ESPN will bus a group of New York-based ad agency media buyers and planners from Manhattan to the Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y., site of the PGA Tour event. Tuesday, ABC/ESPN will hold a golf tournament at the Westchester Country Club for a group of its customers, including General Motors executives, as well as ad industry execs.

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