SBJ/March 17-23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Bradley stars in mobile experience for National

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

National Car Rental, a PGA of America corporate partner, will launch a mobile marketing tour next month featuring PGA Tour star Keegan Bradley.

A 39-foot-long emerald green bus with a giant image of Bradley on the side will visit nearly 40 golf tournaments across more than 20 U.S. states between April and November, the company said. The formal title will be the “Go Like a Pro” mobile experience.

National’s bus tour will visit 41 pro-am golf tournaments between April and November.
Photo by: IMG LIVE
Those tournaments are part of a new pro-am series run by the PGA and title sponsored by National. The pro-am series will feature more than 80 PGA-sanctioned events across the U.S., and the bus will visit close to half of them, mostly in the Midwest and Northeast.

When the bus is on site, visitors can take part in club demonstrations, Trackman swing analysis, club fittings, club grips and tips from PGA professionals. The total footprint for all of the elements will be 40 feet by 20 feet.

Cleveland Golf, Bradley’s equipment sponsor, has an agreement with National to provide drivers, wedges and the new Smart Square putter, as well as Srixon balls, for the tournament participants to sample. Cleveland will receive exposure on the side of the bus and at the events. Financial specifics were not available.

Mark Bradley, Keegan’s father, who also is a teaching PGA pro, will participate in the tour for select events.

National’s relationship with Keegan Bradley is for rights to his name and likeness, and appearances. National also will place advertising in the golf trade magazines that will feature Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner.

Rob Connors, assistant vice president of marketing for National, has run point on the creation of the mobile tour. Connors has worked with Bryan Icenhower of IMG Live, the experiential marketing arm of IMG, on the execution, as well as Luke Reissman, the PGA’s director of partnerships.

IMG Live is coordinating the design for the bus and its travel schedule. IMG’s golf and consulting units worked with National to conceive the idea and develop the activation plan before approaching Keegan Bradley and negotiating a deal with the golfer, according to Nickole Raymond, vice president at IMG Golf.

“Golfers, the constituents of the PGA, line up so perfectly with the business traveler, and that’s what we’re after,” Connors said. “We were looking for a grassroots way to bring the brand to them and serve them in a different way.”

Golfers at these pro-am events will be eligible to win a golf experience with Bradley and his father at the end of the year.

Connors, who wouldn’t specify the cost for the campaign, said National is still evaluating whether the bus will travel to major golf events like the PGA Championship. National also is the title sponsor of the PGA Assistant Championship.

“We believe the live environment is the greatest stage for creating connections with audiences,” Icenhower said. “If you think about it, a golf course is the ideal venue for brands wanting to reach loyal customers. Avid golfers often play at one club more than others. They follow one or two top golfers. They generally stick with one manufacturer. And the environment itself is conducive to personal, one-on-one conversations.”

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