SBJ/May 2-8, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Frontier steps onto national stage with new LPGA partnership

Frontier Airlines is making its first move onto the national sports sponsorship scene by signing an official partnership with the LPGA.

The low-fare carrier, based in Denver, has been active with team deals that include the hometown Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and a handful of college agreements, but this new two-year contract to become the official airline of the LPGA marks Frontier’s first leap into a national property.

“When you look at some of the companies we’ve signed this year, from RR Donnelley to CME Group and now Frontier, we’re seeing companies make their first foray into national sponsorships with the LPGA and that’s an encouraging sign,” said Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketer.

Frontier’s deal will be a combination of cash, activation spending and business trade. The LPGA will drive as much business toward Frontier as it can with the help of discounted fares. LPGA staffers, players and other associates will have access to a discount code that can be applied for online purchases from the airline.

Ian Arthur, Frontier’s vice president of marketing and branding, described the airline as “strategic and selective” in its sports sponsorship spending. The airline does its sports marketing in-house and does not work with an agency, Arthur said. Frontier is considering options for TV advertising on the LPGA’s media partner, Golf Channel, but those likely won’t start until 2012.

In the case of the LPGA, Frontier knows it will get the tour’s business and it hopes to attract the LPGA’s fan base. The LPGA also will use Frontier for its charter flights when it must get a large number of players and staff from one event to another, as it sometimes does with international events.

“We all know golfers’ affinity for travel, so we want to capture that business as well,” said Arthur, who described himself as a golfer.

The LPGA will take the airline onto its Web pages and tournament sites with a range of activation. Frontier will have a prominent ad package on LPGA.com, where it will promote fare specials with click-throughs to FrontierAirlines.com.

The airline also bought a hospitality package and will have the ability to activate on-site at several tournaments over the next two years. Those details are still being ironed out, but Frontier will have some branding and interactive elements at the golf course as part of the deal.

“What we do digitally and on-site usually has to do with promo cards and codes we hand out that offer discounts off the fare,” Arthur said. “Everybody wants discounts off airfares, and it’s a very effective way to get people to try the product. We’re convinced that if people try us, they’ll come back.”

Financial terms were not available, but the LPGA’s official partnerships range from the mid-six figures into seven figures, depending on the assets in the package.

“Their positioning from a brand standpoint is that they’re a ‘whole different animal’ and that matches up well with our position, ‘See why it’s different out here,’” Podany said. “We’re certainly a traveling business, and there will be ways where we can help each other’s business.”

The LPGA lists 15 official marketing partners.



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