SBJ/April 8-14, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

TaylorMade a quick-change artist on marketing

It probably wasn’t noticeable to anyone outside the walls of TaylorMade’s Carlsbad, Calif., headquarters, but the company’s 2013 marketing has already done an abrupt about-face.

In the span of less than three weeks, from the end of January into February, TaylorMade’s marketing team blew up one advertising campaign, created another one and launched it with the help of ad agency NYCA.

“It’s already been a crazy year,” said Bob Maggiore, chief marketer for TaylorMade-Adidas Golf and a 15-year veteran of the company’s marketing department. “We shifted our campaign within weeks and created a completely new message.”

Here’s why: TaylorMade spent the fall of 2012 planning a campaign for the R1 driver built around the club’s adjustability. The golfer can change everything from the loft to the face angle and the flight path. The campaign was themed “80%” because TaylorMade contends that 80 percent of all golfers play drivers with the wrong loft.

It was a perfectly sound
The rapid success of the company’s R1 driver created an equally rapid response in TaylorMade’s marketing strategy.
campaign built on “logic points,” Maggiore said. Three 30-second spots were shot and began airing on Golf Channel with the first tournament of the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

With any new driver, Maggiore said, the hope is that it eventually becomes the top driver on the PGA Tour. It’s a realistic expectation for TaylorMade, which owns 47 percent of the market for drivers and woods. In addition, the company was coming off a record year with $1.7 billion in 2012 sales, more than any other golf equipment maker had ever made. But the R1 took off even faster than expected. By the Sony Open, the second tournament of the season, 21 pros had put the R1 in their bag, making it the most-used driver on tour, according to the Darrell Survey of equipment played.

Just two weeks into the season, the story had changed. It wasn’t just about the logical “80%” anymore. The story was about how the R1 had taken the tour by storm.

“You always set out to have the No. 1 driver on tour, but it takes time,” Maggiore said. “The speed by which this driver became No. 1, well, that was the story. The best players in the world moved to this driver faster than anything we’d ever seen.”

Maggiore has been in charge of marketing for TaylorMade-Adidas for two years, overseeing equipment, footwear and apparel for the TaylorMade, Adidas and Ashworth brands. He likes to think of his 12-person marketing department as Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins quarterback who might hand off, run or pass on any given play.

“Years ago in football, you’d call a play and then run that play,” Maggiore said. “We’re a lot more like the read-option, changing plays in the middle of the play. Our adaptability is what I’m most proud of.”

TaylorMade’s sales and its dominance of the market are well-established now. In 2012, sales of drivers and fairway woods were up 21 percent. Sales of irons were up 32 percent. Footwear sales jumped 19 percent. “They are the greatest marketer in all of golf,” said veteran golf marketer Jon Wagner, a former IMG Golf executive who now runs his own shop in Cleveland, Milestone Sports Management.

“When they came out with the white driver a few years ago, that was all marketing,” Wagner said. “That wasn’t technology. They went out and marketed something new and different, and that’s why their sales are where they are.”

By mid-January, it was clear to Maggiore that TaylorMade had to change course and create new spots that emphasized the “No. 1 driver on tour” message. Within a few weeks, new footage of TaylorMade’s top stars — Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and others — was shot for “R1 is the One.”

“We blew up all of our TV spots, our print, all of our messaging in social media,” Maggiore said. “We replaced all of that creative. We jumped in a room with our partners at NYCA and completely moved to the theme of tour dominance.

“We realize that the chaos and the speed with which we behave is a strength. Honestly, we’ve had people join the team who struggle with that. They want to have a plan and stick with the plan. But taking advantage of your opportunities is what makes great marketing.”

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