SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

CAA Sports acquires Munich firm for golf expansion

CAA Sports, which has one of the largest consulting businesses in U.S. golf, has acquired a Munich-based agency to increase its reach globally.

Through its work with KPMG, Zurich, Farmers Insurance, Web.com, Bose and others, the golf division of CAA Sports has established a long list of consulting clients that sponsor PGA Tour events and golfers. What CAA didn’t have, though, was the kind of global reach that many of its competitors, such as Lagardère Unlimited, IMG and Wasserman Media Group, already have or are also seeking.

CAA Sports will now be managing BMW’s branding efforts at six golf events.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The agency CAA Sports bought is Munich-based Professional Golf Management, an event marketing company that manages most of BMW's golf activation.

PGM has overseen BMW’s branding on the European Tour, where the automaker title sponsors three tournaments in England, Germany and China, as well as other international competitions.

Marco Kaussler, who founded PGM 25 years ago, will join CAA Sports and work with CAA Golf Co-Heads Billy McGriff and Ben Gannett to help guide the agency’s efforts in golf internationally. Those efforts will be focused on finding international activation opportunities for their clients that need more of a global presence.

Essentially, PGM will be rebranded to CAA Sports, but continue to operate as it has. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

“Our golf group helps major brands in the golf space activate with tournaments and player deals, and that’s very consistent with what Marco has been doing for BMW,” Gannett said. “Most of the growth in golf moving forward is going to come outside of the U.S., and Marco brings us a new expertise because of his work with the European Tour and in China.”

As part of the acquisition, CAA Sports will now be managing BMW’s branding efforts at the BMW International Open, BMW PGA Championship, BMW Golf Cup International and its affiliated World Final, and the BMW Masters. BMW also has a consulting relationship with Octagon for its North American sports marketing, including the PGA Tour's BMW Championship, and that is expected to continue.

Gannett and McGriff were first introduced to Kaussler last April at Augusta during the Masters. Talks progressed from there over the next several months.

“We’ve been a very boutique agency, but over the last several years with BMW going more global in golf, adding an event in London and then Shanghai, it just seemed like the right time to partner up with a global agency like CAA,” said Kaussler, who added that his five employees at PGM will be retained. “From the very beginning, we saw that we would fit well in their company culture,” Kaussler said.

PGM’s headquarters in Munich will provide CAA with its first office in Germany.

CAA Sports entered the golf consulting business in 2011 when it acquired MG Sports Marketing, a Jacksonville Beach, Fla.-based firm founded and operated by Gannett and McGriff. The MGSM acquisition brought with it clients such as CDW, Farmers Insurance, Mitsubishi Electric, UBS and Zurich Financial Services. KPMG and Bose came on board last year.

For now, McGriff said, CAA will continue to work in its sweet spot, consulting, with no immediate plans to move deeper into events or player management. CAA does some marketing for Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, but the agency does not represent any active golfers.

“We’re involved in events, but we’re always wearing the hat of the brands that we represent,” McGriff said. “Our job is to make sure the events run to benefit the brand, just as Marco works on behalf of BMW.”

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