SBJ/20090202/This Week's News

Buick slashes hospitality spend for Invitational

Buick is cutting back its spending around this week’s Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines Golf Club near San Diego, but will still use the event to promote its products.

The automaker has eliminated its exhibition trailer and any spending previously earmarked for hospitality and entertainment.

“We’ve dialed that all back to nothing,” said Larry Peck, who manages Buick’s golf sponsorships. “We cut everything that was outside the contract that we were able to cut.”

Buick pays in the mid-to-upper seven figures to sponsor the tournament, for which it receives spots in the pro-am tournament, but no Buick executives will play in the event, Peck said. Twenty-five Buick dealers will pay their own way to use some of the spots, and the remainder were returned to the tournament to be sold on the open market.

The Buick brand and name will also be prominently featured on-site and in media communications, a philosophy that runs contrary to Chrysler’s treatment of its PGA Tour event in January. Chrysler removed its name from any tournament language and signs, except the tournament logo, and eliminated the hole-in-one car that has become standard among automotive title sponsors.

Buick cars will be on-site this week, Peck said, although at the last minute the company scrapped plans to award a 2010 LaCrosse to a player who makes a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th hole.

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