SBJ/November 26-December 2, 2012/In Depth

Case Study: Nationwide's Digital House

When insurance company Nationwide decided to give golf fans at a famed PGA Tour event more to do at the tournament and at home, the sponsor went digital.

This year, Wasserman Media Group worked with Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, to create what came to be known simply as Digital House. Located at the Jack Nicklaus course that serves as the tournament site, Nationwide set up an area for golf fans to take a break from walking the links. There, they could listen in on live interviews by Golf Digest contributor and blogger Geoff Shackelford.

Photo by: Wasserman Media Group
The segments, which also included analysis of signature holes on the course, were filmed by a three-person camera crew and sent to Shackelford’s Twitter followers. Nationwide and the tournament also distributed the vignettes online and in social media.

“Golf fans are very tech-savvy,” said Jennifer van Dijk, Wasserman’s vice president of digital consulting. “So we tried to take advantage of Nationwide’s presence on the course and merge that with technology. Let the digital amplify what’s going on [at the tournament].”

Shackelford featured players such as Bill Haas, he gave fans at home a flavor of the tournament, and interviewed everyone from PGA Tour officials to the course calligrapher in charge of scoring updates.

Digital House generated 5 million social impressions, the agency said, and will return next year. The program also gave Nationwide a platform to discuss the charitable arm of its sponsorship, with proceeds from the tournament going to the Columbus-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

While digital elements did include paths back to Nationwide, van Dijk described it as a “soft sell.”

“Nothing heavy handed, and that was intentional,” she said. “[We] wanted to use the vernacular of social media to gain interest and engagement.”

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