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Callaway swings big with Super Bowl pregame buy

Callaway will serve as the presenting sponsor for a 30-minute segment of the Super Bowl XLIV pregame show on CBS, marking the first time a stand-alone golf equipment company has sponsored the highly rated telecast. The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, which will also have 90 seconds worth of television spots that will air during pregame, is sponsoring the fifth of six 30-minute segments preceding the kickoff show.

The sponsorship is meant to grab the attention of the mainstream sports fan, said a Callaway spokesman. That is a departure from the traditional advertising strategy of Callaway and other major golf equipment companies, which primarily stick to media buys and sponsorships of professional golf tournaments on CBS, NBC and Golf Channel. The pregame show in the 5 to 5:30 p.m. ET slot last year on NBC earned an 11.6 Nielsen rating, or about 21 million viewers over the course of the program. Network coverage of PGA Tour events on CBS and NBC averaged a 2.1 Nielsen rating in 2009.

“We feel there is a great deal of pent-up desire among consumers who have been holding back on purchases over the last year,” said Tim Buckman, Callaway’s director of communications. “We look at this sponsorship as an effective way to introduce Callaway’s latest equipment to an enormous, mainstream audience.”

Callaway will use the sponsorship to showcase its new Diablo Edge line of equipment, which hits retail Feb. 15. All five categories of the line, consisting of drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and two sets of irons, received gold medals from Golf Digest’s “Hot List,” which is considered the measuring stick for equipment analysis.

The sponsorship includes a video clip introduction to the pregame show that intersperses golf- and football-themed highlights with Callaway branding. Longtime Callaway endorser Phil Mickelson will appear in a taped segment that will run during the show and at least one of the commercials. There is also expected to be Callaway golf bags and equipment and other branding displayed on the set, though final details were still being completed late last week.

Callaway would not disclose its total spending on the sponsorship and new creative but said it represented an increase in annual television spending and would not result in decreased advertising spending in other areas. The ads that run in the telecast will also run on network and cable golf coverage throughout the year.

OMD is Callaway’s media agency. The television spots were produced by San Francisco-based Eleven.

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