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SBJ/20100913/This Weeks Issue
LPGA in rebuilding mode for sponsor summit
Published September 13, 2010
The LPGA’s first-year commissioner Mike Whan and his chief marketer Jon Podany will stage their first sponsor summit on Wednesday in New York, where they’ll tell a story of a tour on the mend.
A room full of more than 100 marketing executives from current sponsors, prospective sponsors and marketing agencies have RSVP’d, Podany said.
“We’re rebuilding relationships that maybe were broken in the past,” Podany said. “We’re finding that we have the ability to get meetings and consideration and there is a rising intrigue with the tour that maybe it’s a property to think about.”
The LPGA has hosted sponsor summits periodically in the past, but Whan was not on board in time for the function last fall, which was held on the heels of former Commissioner Carolyn Bivens’ ouster in the summer of 2009.
Podany said the story lines he and Whan will tell revolve around the tour’s global appeal, the new era of competition after the departure of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, and a financial entry point far more economical than the PGA Tour.
The LPGA also has several categories it is hotly pursuing, including auto, finance, credit card, technology, consumer electronics and soft drink.
“It’s true that we have a lot of opportunities now,” Podany said. “We don’t have a lot of the major categories filled.”
LPGA tournament title sponsorships tend to run in the low seven figures annually, while title sponsorship of PGA Tour events run in the middle to high seven figures.
“While we don’t want to necessarily position the LPGA as a lower-cost model, there is a good value story to tell,” Podany said.
Podany, formerly a 15-year veteran of the PGA Tour, was hired by the LPGA in February shortly after Whan took over. The two were college roommates at Miami (Ohio) University and the LPGA presented Podany with the opportunity for greater responsibility beyond business development, including TV, digital media and the tour’s U.S. tournaments.
After spending the better part of the year beating on doors, Podany said hosting Wednesday evening’s event at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square will enable the LPGA to put its best foot forward with a program that will highlight as many as a dozen players.
Whan will start the program with a “state of the tour” and take questions to begin the program. Four players, Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Amanda Blumenherst and Jimin Kang, will then speak as part of a panel discussion. Natalie Gulbis and Michelle McGann will be among the others mingling with the crowd.
“The idea is to get people excited about the LPGA and where we’re headed,” Podany said. “It’s an opportunity to present the commissioner to the business community in New York and showcase some of our top players and personalize them.”