SBJ/December 17-23, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

MasterCard stays with PGA Tour

MasterCard’s longtime position as a PGA Tour official marketing partner will continue through 2016, based on a renewal signed with the tour last week.

The company, which has been a tour partner since 1995, plans to roll out several new initiatives in 2013, including a couple of new text-to-win programs that will give cardholders the opportunity to upgrade their hospitality on the day of the tournament.

MasterCard will continue to display its marks on the scoreboards at each tournament.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
MasterCard will continue to display its marks on the PGA Tour’s scoreboards across the course at each tournament, giving it some of the highest visibility available at a tour event.

The additional four years on the official marketing partnership aligns the tour partnership with its title sponsorship of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was extended earlier this year and also runs through the 2016 season. It has been title sponsor of Palmer’s tournament since 2004.

An official marketing partnership like MasterCard’s goes for $5 million to $7 million a year, industry insiders said. The title sponsorship for Palmer’s tournament is around $8 million, putting MasterCard’s spending on rights fees at $13 million to $15 million a year. Neither MasterCard nor the tour would comment on the cost of the rights.

“Golf is a passion point for many of our cardholders,” said Chris McWilton, MasterCard’s president, U.S. markets. “The tour helps us provide cardholders with golf experiences and access that brings them closer to the game.”

MasterCard’s renewal ranks among the tour’s biggest sponsorship wins this year because the company is one of the tour’s most prolific advertisers and offers some of the most robust activation among its marketing partners. Clearly, the tour’s biggest renewal of the year came in March when FedEx extended for five more years through 2017.

Overall, the tour extended nine of the 11 tournament title sponsorship deals that were up in 2012. Only Transitions Optical didn’t return for the event in Tampa, which goes into 2013 without a title sponsor. The Children’s Miracle Network tournament at Disney was not brought back as part of the new 2013-14 schedule.

MasterCard, which works with Octagon on its golf activation and strategies, began testing some of its new programs earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Barclays.

One program, called “Best seats in the house,” enables cardholders text-to-win access to hospitality, or to upgrade their hospitality, on the day of the tournament. Another text-to-win program called “Priceless lessons” offers winners the chance to have a 20-minute putting lesson with a PGA Tour pro. Both of these programs will be available at most tour events this year.

Other cardholder advantages, such as the ability to buy tickets before anyone else, or discounts for merchandise and concessions, have been core to MasterCard’s activation in the past.

Cardholders also enjoy access to play private TPC courses that are owned by the tour, as well as preferred tee times.

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