SBJ/January 9-15, 2012/In Depth

Pulling agencies together no small feat

A New York City traffic cop would have a hard time directing the conference calls that have led to the Humana Challenge.

Many of the weekly planning calls since April have included more than a dozen people representing Humana, the Clinton Foundation, the PGA Tour and all of their agencies.

“You could have up to 15 different departments and groups and agencies and properties on any given call,” said Tyson Webber, vice president of client services at GMR Marketing. “There are definitely more groups involved with this than anything I’ve ever worked on before.”

GMR was hired by Humana in March to negotiate the contract with the PGA Tour and plan activation. The sports and entertainment marketing agency is one of several Omnicom agencies that Humana works with. Rapp is Humana’s ad agency and Interbrand conducted a rebranding study for the company.

Outside of Omnicom, Humana works with Edelman on public relations and Colvin Sports Network to secure endorsement deals with PGA Tour pros.

And within Humana, several different departments, including government relations, public affairs, and sales and marketing, have participated in planning sessions.

The Clinton Foundation brought in Wasserman Media Group to handle sports marketing around the tournament.

“Because the model of this tournament is different, it’s like a startup company,” said Tom Noland, senior vice president for corporate communications at Humana. “The main challenge is you have to invent. If this were a typical PGA Tour event, you’d give them some money and put up a tent. It’d be more programmable. We’re making up the template as we go.”

The addition of the Clinton Foundation conference on health and well-being slapped a heavy-duty layer of planning and coordination on top of the normal tournament week. There were media days to schedule, including one in October that involved former President Bill Clinton, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and Humana CEO Mike McCallister.

One of the attractions for Humana was the ability to make the theme of the tournament — health and well-being — a 52-week marketing platform rather than a topic for only the week of the tournament.

For example, a Humana-branded mobile marketing van will debut at the tournament next week and tour the country offering nutritional and wellness advice, pedometers and workout devices that measure heart rate and other health-related biometrics.

“You still have the basics of a PGA Tour event,” said Andy Bilodeau, senior vice president at Wasserman. “You’ve still got the blocking and tackling of the branding, the on-site experience, hospitality. But it is different because of the magnitude of who is involved and the president’s ability to reach out to supporters, and all of the people who are coming in for the conference. It takes a level of communication and cooperation that’s not typically part of putting on a tournament.”

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