SBJ/September 19-25, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Schwab putting golf mentor stories on video

Journeyman golfer Kevin Streelman swallows hard as he listens to one of the PGA Tour’s most respected voices tell him, “You weren’t at your best.”

As Tom Lehman continues in this honest, career-evaluating exchange, he tells Streelman, “You know how good you can be and you’ve got to say it. You’ve got to go for it.”

This back-and-forth between two world-class golfers was not part of a revealing interview on Golf Channel or CBS. It’s part of a documentary video series that’s launching this week on SchwabFilms.com.

Promotion for “The Mentor Project” will have a cinematic feel to it.
Investment firm Charles Schwab calls it “The Mentor Project” and the initial release of three videos will capture conversations between established players like Lehman, a tour star and major champion, and Streelman, a player striving to achieve what Lehman already has.

Charles Schwab, the tour’s official investment firm and umbrella sponsor of the Champions Tour’s seasonlong points series, sponsored these videos, which pair a 50-plus tour veteran with a younger player. Corey Pavin and Jeff Overton are featured in another video, as are father Jay Haas and son Bill Haas in the third video. More videos are planned, but the players have not been selected yet.

“We wanted to go after the spirit of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ and Showtime’s ‘The Franchise’ to provide an authentic behind-the-scenes look at real mentorships in golf,” said Derek Benbow, director of corporate sponsorships for Schwab. “This documentary pairs champions with up-and-comers to look at the struggle it takes to succeed on tour.”

In Pavin’s video, he tells Overton, “You better win. Soon.” That exchange culminates a conversation between Pavin and Overton about the 2010 Ryder Cup, in which Pavin was the coach and Overton a U.S. player.

Lehman and Streelman, both from the Minneapolis area, have been friends for years.

“We worked with the PGA Tour to find those relationships that are authentic,” Benbow said. “This is not typically the kind of content you see on tournament telecasts.”

Lehman added: “You can’t force it. It can’t be faked. You can’t just put two guys together who don’t know each other. There has to be something there and that’s what I like about it. You find a relationship where the older guy who has seen a few more things and the younger guy really wants to be his best. That’s a true friendship, but also a true mentoring/mentoree relationship.”

Schwab created “The Mentor Project” as a way to lure viewers onto a new website, SchwabFilms.com, that includes playing tips from Hank Haney and investing tips from Schwab professionals. The videos with the tour players, each of which last about three minutes, will be edited into 30-second vignettes that will air during tournament broadcasts on NBC and Golf Channel this year and CBS next year.

They’ll also run on Schwab’s social media channels and PGATour.com.

Those spots will mimic a movie trailer. A print ad for Golf Magazine will look like a movie poster.

Schwab’s sports marketing agency, Team Epic, worked with the firm on the strategy, while San Francisco-based production company Mekanism produced the videos. Universal McCann buys the time for Schwab.

“The advice in the videos parallels the financial advice our experts provide at Schwab,” Benbow said. “And it’s something that will drive a larger audience to the new site.”

The players were not compensated for the interviews. Schwab instead made a contribution to the charity of each player’s choice.

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