The PGA Tour will launch four new 30-second spots on Friday, each of which will run on NBC, CBS and Golf Channel through the next three weeks of the FedExCup playoffs. The spots are a collaboration between the Tour’s brand marketing department and its ad agency, Austin-based GSD&M. Stars Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Matt Kuchar are the golfers featured in the spots, which highlight aspects of their personality. Fowler’s ad features his exploits as an action sports enthusiast and video from his teen days as a motocross biker. Johnson is revealed as an all-around athlete, swimming, dunking a basketball and working out. McDowell’s spot showcases his competitive grit and every-man qualities, while Kuchar is the ultimate family man who plays the game with a smile on his face. “What we wanted to do was capitalize on the unique personalities of these players and expand on the things that our fans might find appealing,” said PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int’l Affairs Ty Votaw, who added the spots are an extension of the “These Guys are Good” campaign. Votaw: "Of the four, there’s an interesting mix of personalities that you’ll see come through in these spots.” He added that it does not hurt that Johnson won the opening event of the playoffs last weekend, The Barclays, and Kuchar finished second. The first spots will debut Friday on Golf Channel’s coverage of the Deutsche Bank Championship and run throughout NBC’s weekend broadcasts as well. CBS will carry them within its U.S. Open tennis and SEC football coverage. The Tour’s agreement with CBS provides it with inventory in other sports broadcasts. PGATour.com also will carry extended video of the players.
HIGHLIGHTING THE STARS: Votaw said the production is part of the Tour’s mission to highlights its golfers. “We’re at an interesting point in our history,” Votaw said. “We’ve seen the past couple of years that the No. 1 player in the world hasn’t performed as well and there’s been an emergence of young players who have captured the fans’ imagination while performing on big stages. At the same time, you’ve got some established veterans performing well. There’s this juxtaposition of the next generation and veterans, and the feedback we’ve received from fans demonstrates it’s something they’ve enjoyed watching. As we go through this evolution, it’s incumbent on us to make sure we create greater awareness for these players across all of the platforms we have available, whether it’s digital, PSAs or through the pairings on Thursday and Friday.”
The Arthritis Foundation and the USTA have announced a new campaign featuring tennis HOFer Billie Jean King that "urges people to take up exercise as a weapon against pain," according to Jane Levere of the N.Y. TIMES. Most of the new ads “show middle-age men and women participating in sports like swimming, biking, boxing and walking, activities the Arthritis Foundation said could help relieve arthritis pain and sometimes even delay the onset of symptoms. The 67-year-old King, who has “had osteoarthritis since she was in her 20s, and had both knees replaced last year,” will appear in some of the spots. TV ads featuring King “depict her playing tennis, with arthritis as her opponent.” In one, King says, “Tennis is a weapon for me with arthritis. There’s nothing like it for me to hit a ball, run to the ball. Any time, any court, I’m ready, let’s go.” The ads carry the tagline, “What’s your weapon? Visit FightArthritisPain.org.” Print, TV and online advertising featuring King “will appear during the U.S. Open, on screens at stadiums, throughout the grounds, and in collateral material; the USTA also will feature content about the campaign and advertising” on its website and in social media. But Syracuse Univ. sports management professor Rick Burton said, “I don’t know if she fits it. I don’t take her personality to be militaristic. There seems to be a disconnect between the engagement of Billie Jean and advertising using generic weekend warriors.” Univ. of Pennsylvania marketing professor Yoram Wind said the campaign is “too rational.” But King said, “I’m a little chubby, I think people are going to relate. I’m not just somebody who won a championship. I’ve overcome arthritis, I deal with it” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/31).
Top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic’s “prowess on the court and his great personality" have led to "a lot of deals off the court in terms of marketing,” according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. Djokovic earlier this week signed a deal with luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, joining the likes of Heat F LeBron James and golfers Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood as endorsers for the brand. Djokovic also endorses Sergio Tacchini apparel, which was “once a huge brand in tennis,” after agreeing to a 10-year deal that began last year. The agreement is a "big coup for the brand that has less than $70 million in annual revenue.” Meanwhile, Djokovic indicated that his "voluntary gluten-free diet might open him up to more deals given the $3 billion and growing gluten-free market." Rovell notes as long as Djokovic "has success ... the marketing dollars will still come” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 8/31).
ON THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Serena Williams won her first-round U.S. Open match last night against Bojana Jovanovski, and BLOOMBERG NEWS reported the Davie Brown Index shows that Williams' appeal is "up again as she returns from two foot operations and a blood clot in her lungs.” Williams' appeal “fell to a career low after she threatened a lineswoman” for calling a foot fault in the ’09 U.S. Open. The Marketing Arm Account Dir Darin David said, “At times in her career, she has been almost unbeatable. Seeing her fight through some adversity has made her more endearing to people" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/28).
GOING WITH THE SUBDUED LOOK: ESPN’s Pam Shriver interviewed Venus Williams Monday following her first-round victory against Vesna Dolonts and said, “I know your other love besides tennis is fashion, and we have seen a lot of amazing fashion from you the last couple of years. Can you give us a little description of what you’ve put into your dress tonight?” Williams said, “Tonight is a tradition of a little black dress. Really, a little more traditional than I’ve done before. But I love lace and the zippers, so that’s still there.” Shriver: “Well, we both have lace on tonight, but mine is six-years-old, and I have the feeling yours is a few weeks old” (“U.S. Open," ESPN2, 8/29).
PGA Tour Viking Classic Exec Dir Randy Watkins yesterday said that he “is confident about the future of the event given the number of calls he fielded after Viking decided to step aside” from its title sponsorship deal. Watkins yesterday said, “My phone rang all day yesterday and I’ve been in meetings all day today. I think we’ll be fine, though I have nothing to announce at the moment. We’ve sure got a lot of interest from folks new and folks who have been helping for a while.” PRO GOLF TALK’s Ryan Ballengee noted the “mark to reach is $1 million from whatever group of sponsors step in for Viking” (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/30).
THE RIGHT OF WAY: In London, Nina Lakhani reported ’12 London Olympic officials and sponsors will “speed past thousands of ordinary Londoners stuck in traffic during next year's Olympic Games as part of controversial plans which give so-called VIPs extraordinary access to the capital's roads.” Hundreds of BMWs will transport IOC members and execs “from top sponsors such as British Airways, Coca-Cola and Visa to events across London.” But Transport for London “denied reports in the Mail on Sunday that VIP cars would be fitted with devices that trigger red lights to turn green.” It said that "‘key vehicles’ would be monitored but there would be no special traffic measures for VIPs” (London INDEPENDENT, 8/29).
A BIRD IN THE HAND ... AD AGE’s Bruell & Zmuda reported Coca-Cola North America is “searching for an agency to help it with social-media monitoring.” Coca-Cola Senior Media Relations Manager Kerry Tressler said that “some 20 agencies have been involved in the selection process.” New York-based 360i is the digital agency of record “for a number of Coca-Cola brands” (ADAGE.com, 8/30).