SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Marketingsponsorship

Callaway, Nike using early season advertising to reach golfers

Callaway Golf and Nike Golf are putting more dollars into network television advertising during PGA Tour events this golf season.

Callaway is increasing its network advertising in 2006 after having minimal presence there last year because the core avid golfer watches a lot of the sport on TV, said John Melican, senior vice president and Callaway Golf brand manager. The ads started at the Ford Championship at Doral and will conclude with the Bank of America Colonial on May 21.

Tiger Woods and other Nike Golf pros will be
highly visible on networks through mid-July.
“Early in the season is the right time to be there, when they’re looking to make their choices on equipment,” Melican said. “We get on their consciousness.”

Leading Callaway pros Phil Mickelson, Annika Sorenstam, Arnold Palmer, Charles Howell III and Morgan Pressel will be seen in the ads.

Callaway’s new campaign “is as big if not bigger than what we’ve done in the past,” Melican said. He wouldn’t give numbers, but industry sources say Callaway will be spending in the eight figures.

Cindy Davis, U.S. general manager for Nike Golf, says the company will be highly visible on networks through mid-July, as opposed to the minimal network advertising it did last April and May.

“The reason is impact,” Davis said. “It means a larger audience and it works because it’s coupled with what we’re doing in print and on cable. We’ll have a strong presence in the majors.”

Tiger Woods is featured in some of the ads, as are Nike Golf pros such as Justin Leonard and K.J. Choi.

Nike Golf is spending what company President Bob Wood says are millions of dollars on its new effort.

Network advertising also plays prominently in the campaign from MacGregor Golf, which is spending $20 million on what its chairman and CEO, Barry Schneider, calls the company’s biggest advertising campaign ever.

MacGregor will spend about the same amount of money on network advertising this year as it did last year, according to Schneider. It will be on all network golf broadcasts except the Masters through June 4. Greg Norman will be featured in the 30-second network spots.

Technology will be the major message that binds all three companies.

MacGregor’s new products, led by its new Mactec NVG2 drivers, are “very technology heavy,” Schneider said. MacGregor’s theme is “Better Technology, Better Materials, Better Design, No Matter the Cost.”

“This is … our expression that we’re totally committed to using advanced technologies to create equipment that will make the game more fun and enjoyable,” Schneider said.

Callaway’s theme is concentrated on “Choosing to Be Better.” It will feature a full line of Callaway products, including new introductions such as the X460 driver, X Series fairway woods and HX Pearl golf ball, which is designed for women.

“We repositioned the brand last year and got back to telling the technology and innovation stories and how that can help every golfer become a better player,” Melican said. “We’re one of the few brands that can stress that whole pyramid of influence, from making products for the touring pro at the top level of the game all the way down to somebody entering the game, and everybody in between.”

Nike Golf intends to tell golfers its technology story for the first time to make them understand the strength and the innovation behind its products. The campaign will feature Rock Ishii, director of product development for balls, and Tom Stites, director of product development for clubs. Key products will be the SasQuatch driver, Slingshot OSS irons and the Nike One golf ball.

“You’ll see our R&D center (in Fort Worth, Texas) so people will understand there’s an investment made in research and development,” Davis said. “I don’t think you see much television creative talking about technology the way we are. It’s very human and very personable. You can understand it and say, ‘Wow, there’s a lot behind it.’”

There’s also a lot behind the other parts of the companies’ campaigns. Cable advertising on The Golf Channel and USA Network will be important, as will print ads in key endemic weekly and monthly golf-related publications such as SI Golf Plus, Golfweek, Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, Golf For Women and others.

Bob Seligman is a writer in New York.

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