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Volume 24 No. 160

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Ryder Cup is shaping up to be a financial bonanza for the PGA of America. The PGA says it expects 240,000 people on the course through the six days of the event -- three practice rounds, and three competitive rounds, which began Friday morning. The PGA does not release daily attendance figures, but some vendors have been told to expect as many as 60,000 people on the course each day. That will translate into huge merchandise numbers for Cutter & Buck, which manages the 45,000-square-foot Ryder Cup shop next to the 18th hole. Traffic through the merchandise tent was overwhelming as early as Wednesday, when the fire marshal halted the flow of people into the tent for about 15 minutes. Even with 50 checkout registers going, the line to pay went almost the length of the tent. More than 100 fans stood outside waiting to get in and only when buyers exited were more people allowed to enter. The Ryder Cup record for sales was set at Oakland Hills in '04 when the PGA sold $15M worth of hats, shirts and other logo gear. Early projections show this Ryder Cup on pace to surpass those numbers this weekend.

HOSPITALITY SALES STRONG: The PGA has enjoyed similar success with hospitality sales. Ryder Cup Tournament Exec Dir Michael Belot’s team sold 76 chalets, with prices ranging from $235,000 for 50 people up to a reported $1M for 150 people. The original plan called for 53 chalets, but sales went so well that the PGA kept building and selling them. Most of the chalets line both sides of the 18th hole, with others at holes 1, 2 and 15. Additional hospitality packages in the clubhouse begin at $150,000 for 30 people and go up to $450,000 for 125 people. The chalets at the 15th hole were not part of the original build-out, but they have become some of the most popular because of their location on the drivable par-4. In fact, many of the PGA’s partners -- including Omega and American Express -- elected to put their hospitality on the 15th because of the drama expected on the hole, which is guarded by water down the right side. The PGA does not disclose its sales numbers, but many industry veterans at the Ryder Cup said sales would probably approach $50M for the chalets, clubhouse rooms, individual hospitality clubs, viewing suites and corporate tables.

Omega President Stephen Urquhart said he loves the clean look of the Ryder Cup, which has minimal sponsor presence when the event is held in the U.S. In fact, Omega, the official timekeeper of the Ryder Cup, by virtue of its PGA of America deal, has the only branded presence on the course with its clocks near the tee boxes. Urquhart said the minimalist approach reminds him of the Olympics. As he surveyed the crowd of people walking through the Omega activation tent at Medinah County Club, Urquhart weighed in on a few other topics. He noted the Omega brand “has had its ups and downs over the years” in the U.S. market, but it has “come back much stronger in the last few years.” He said, “We made a big decision a few years ago to concentrate our efforts on our own retail stores and now we’ve got 27 of them in the U.S., so that’s been a major investment. We’ve gotten out of the chains. I think golf working with our retail stores in something that can take us to the next level.” Urquhart noted the company has “three waves of guests coming in” during the Ryder Cup. Urquhart: “We have some coming in from Europe and Asia, but most it’s end-consumers from the U.S. The U.S. market is so big, that’s where we’re concentrating. At the Olympics, we brought in a lot more of our retail partners, but here it’s more the end consumer that we’re bringing in. It’ll be about 450 people total for the week.” He said the company has been told more than 200,000 people will come through the Omega tent at Medinah, which is “really pretty impressive.” Meanwhile, Urquhart said of Omega’s spend on the European Tour, “We still have our tournament in Switzerland and our tournament in Dubai, and there are others where we’re the official watch. But some of the European markets like Spain are becoming very difficult, economically. Honestly, our main focus now is on golf in America.”

The long lines fans witnessed in the buildup to the Ryder Cup this week were not just to see Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy tee off. Rather, fans were 75-100 people deep waiting for the latest activation from PGA of America sponsor Mercedes-Benz. The automaker on Tuesday launched a challenge where fans have the opportunity to win a brand new Mercedes by sinking a hole-in-one on a 150-yard par 3 with a green positioned over water. Mercedes-Benz USA Brand Experience Marketing Department Manager Stephanie Zimmer noted the company did a similar activation in Atlanta at the ’11 PGA Championship and saw crowds of 200-300 people pass through per day. National Hole In One is insuring the promotion where fans can try one shot each day. There was no winner last year and through Friday morning, no one had aced the hole. Mercedes-Benz also debuted a new 6,000-square-foot brand center, an interactive fan experience located just inside the main entrance. It features putting stroke analysis from a PGA instructor and a simulator that captures strobe photos to critique swing movement. In addition, ’13 Mercedes-Benz model cars will be on display. The activation at the Ryder Cup marks a first for the German automaker, which also serves as the official vehicle for the event, as well as for the PGA of America, PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship.

The Univ. of Memphis is "relying on a mix of humor and creativity" in a new television ad campaign to "sell the sizzle" of the school's football team, according to Phil Stukenborg of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The ads, which come via Sullivan Branding, Memphis, feature UM grads Drew Smith and Jamie Mann "as office workers discussing attending the upcoming Tiger football home game." The spots conclude with UM players "staring menacingly at the camera while new coach Justin Fuente implores fans to attend the next game." They began running in mid-August and have made Smith and Mann "quasi-celebrities." Smith's "signature comeback to the office intern, 'Mind your business, Dennis,' has become a local catchphrase." With the understanding the football program is rebuilding, UM AD Tom Bowen "suggested a unique approach with an ad campaign that 'would be memorable, something light.'" Sullivan Branding Creative Dir Earl Keister said that there was "an ad campaign set to run when Bowen took over, but Bowen wanted a different message." Keister: "We took three campaigns into him and the one he liked the best, and the one we liked the best, was one we called 'The Water Cooler Guys.' It's these office workers in cubicle land that have this witty banter back and forth. And they are just always around the office water cooler because that's where guys talk in the office." Bowen said that the spots "have been so well-received that 'The Water Cooler Guys' will be part of next year's ad campaign." He said that women's basketball spots "will feature the duo and a TV commercial to promote next spring's Tiger baseball game against Ole Miss at AutoZone Park will include Smith and Mann, too" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/28).

The MLS Revolution on Thursday announced a multiyear deal that makes Sovereign\Santander the team's official bank. The deal will focus heavily on the pair's joint community involvement under the tagline, "One Team, One Goal." The agreement includes day-of-game sponsorships; on-site game day programs; community clinics run by Revolution players and the Revolution Academy; naming rights for the team's official "Man of the Match" award; on-field advertising during Revolution matches; trips to away games; and TV, radio, print and digital inventory. This is Sovereign\Santander's first U.S.-based soccer property (Revolution). In Boston, Greg Turner notes the Spanish-owned, Boston-based bank sponsors "several South American soccer tournaments." Brazilian soccer star Pele Thursday officially "kicked off" the parternship at Gillette Stadium. Santander, which acquired Sovereign in '09, "plans to drop the Sovereign brand eventually" (BOSTON HERALD, 9/28).

PVH Thursday announced a multiyear marketing partnership between its Izod brand and golfer Webb Simpson. As part of the agreement that begins in ‘13, Simpson will wear Izod Golf apparel on-course and contribute to future product development. Simpson will wear Izod Golf shirts with the brand’s logos on the left chest and back yoke, along with Izod Golf pants and belts. Simpson will be featured in POS materials at participating retailers, in on-air and print advertisements and on and Izod’s social media channels (PVH).

: CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS’ Meribah Knight notes startup sports drink Greater Than is “generating nearly $1 million in annual revenue, double from a year ago, and shipping 30,000 containers, which retail for $1.99 to $2.50 for a 20-ounce bottle, per month.” However, the drink’s creators, Mark and Jon Sider, have “yet to turn a profit.” The brothers “rely on guerrilla marketing to spread the brand name.” In October, the company “plans to launch a web ad featuring” former NBAer Brian Scalabrine (CRAIN’S CHICAGO BUSINESS, 9/22 issue).

: Nike announced Bobcats Fs Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor, Celtics F Jared Sullinger and Suns G Kendall Marshall have signed multiyear deals with Jordan Brand (Nike)....The Hockey East conference announced a partnership with Front Row Marketing for exclusive sales rights for its men’s and women’s hockey championships (Hockey East).