American Express, an official sponsor of the PGA of America and the PGA Championship since '07, did not renew its deal with the association after it expired in '13. AmEx was categorized as an official patron sponsor, the PGA's highest level of sponsorship. Deals at that level cost in the mid-seven figures as well as incremental media spending with the PGA’s media partners. Mercedes-Benz and Omega are the other two PGA sponsors at the patron level. National Car Rental is designated as an official partner, while Standard Life is the first worldwide Ryder Cup partner. The AmEx deal gave it rights to the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup on U.S. soil and other PGA of America events. The credit card activated by offering its card members a variety of special golf experiences and access to tickets, in addition to the PGA Learning Center, presented by American Express, on-site at the PGA's major events. The PGA's patron level is not expected to remain at just two sponsors, however. Industry sources indicate that the PGA is closing in on a deal to sign a new patron to replace AmEx, albeit from a different category.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Saturday night’s Saints-Eagles NFC Wild Card game features a battle of the NFL’s new digital pioneers -- the first two franchises to adopt Snapchat as part of their social media arsenals. The latest craze in Smartphone messaging, Snapchat relays upwards of 400 million media messages, or “Snaps,” every day. The appeal to brands looking to tap into the platform is obvious: an unprecedentedly young user base, instant engagement and the opportunity to serve as a pioneer for the medium as a consumer-interaction tool. Saints Web/Social Media Manager Alex Restrepo said that the team since October has built up a following of over 28,500 users, at least 14,000 of whom view each individual Snap. He said that his most significant takeaway thus far has been the fans’ perception of the Snaps as personal messages from their favorite team. “You see people saying, ‘The Saints snapchatted me,’" Restrepo said. "We’re not really Snapchatting them; we’re just adding it to the story, and they’re seeing the story. But they see Snapchat as a personal messaging app, as opposed to being a social media outlet.” That sense of personal and private connection separates Snapchat from Facebook and other outlets, and Restrepo has tapped into that dynamic by having individual players reach out to the team’s following. He said, “We had (TE) Jimmy Graham give a video shout out to them. Sometimes the players even take the phone and do it themselves. When it’s a direct message from a player to the fan, I think that goes over well.” In addition to messages from players, the teams have used Snapchat to capture and share moments from team activities that fans usually do not experience. Restrepo has sent the Saints’ followers photos from practices, press conferences and the team’s locker room. Meanwhile, Eagles Digital & Social Media Dir Linda Thomas last month ran a “12 Days of Snapchat” series, featuring players at the team facility in holiday garb and Eagles gifts under a Christmas tree.
Eagles C Jason Kelce was part of the 12 Days of Snapchat
WORD OF MOUTH: The Snapchat point people for all three teams stressed that the key to growing a Snapchat account is fostering word-of-mouth promotion. Unlike a Twitter feed or Facebook page, there is no direct way to link to a team’s Snapchat account. Restrepo: “It’s only on the phone. You have to say, ‘Add Saints in the Add Friends tab of the app.’” Other than “two or three” posts on traditional social platforms encouraging fans to add the team on Snapchat, Restrepo said that the Saints’ following can be attributed to fans telling fans. He said, “They dramatically increase on game days. People are with their friends and friends are talking about what we send and that’s when they add us.” He added that he believes fans taking and sharing screenshots is important in spreading the word. He said, “That’s the number that I want to see high, because if you take a print screen, that means you’re going to share it and help promote the account.”
SHOW ME THE MONEY: The Saints last weekend launched their first Snapchat contest, which came before Snapchat dealt with a security breach that compromised usernames and phone numbers of millions of its users. The club asked entrants to screenshot the corresponding Snap, and e-mail it to the team for a chance to win a photo autographed by Graham. Restrepo said that in 24 hours, more than 3,500 fans took screenshots, and 3,700 sent e-mail entries. Restrepo added he believes the numbers “would do well when we pitch to a sponsor to get involved down the road.”
U.S. runner Nick Symmonds in an "eventful two days ... severed a seven-year association with Nike and signed" with Seattle-based apparel maker Brooks Running Company, according to Ken Goe of the Portland OREGONIAN. The change in sponsorship will "force Symmonds to leave the Eugene-based Oregon Track Club, which has been his professional home" since he left Willamette Univ. in '06. The OTC is "comprised entirely of Nike athletes." The "outspoken Symmonds' relationship with Nike has been uneasy in recent years because of Symmonds' criticism of the governing bodies of track & field." Nike is a "strong supporter" of USA Track & Field and the USOC. Symmonds "particularly has been vocal about limitations placed by sanctioning bodies on the ability of track athletes to obtain secondary sponsorship." Symmonds said that Nike "offered him a contract with financial terms ... similar to the one he accepted from Brooks, with one key difference." He said that terms of the Nike deal "would have kept him from pursuing other sponsors." Symmonds said that his Brooks deal is "limited to shoes and apparel" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/3). RUNNER'S WORLD's Peter Gambaccini noted Symmonds "already has relationships with the Idaho-based wellness company Melaleuca and with Hansons Dodge Creative, a marketing firm that won an auction to rent temporary tattoo space on his shoulder." Symmonds said the arrangement with Brooks “opens up an opportunity to go after Garmin or Oakley or something like that.” He added, "I would have come off as a little bit hypocritical if I said that we need to fight for the athlete’s rights to be able to market themselves and operate as independent contractors and then I would go sign a Nike contract that basically completely crippled my ability to do that" (RUNNERSWORLD.com, 1/2).
BMW of North America has "built six two-person bobsleds" for the U.S. men’s and women’s teams competing in the Sochi Games, according to Andrew Newman of the N.Y. TIMES. The automaker has been working with the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation since '11 "to develop a prototype." The effort has "been led by Michael Scully, a creative director at DesignworksUSA, a consultancy owned by the BMW Group." On Sunday, a "documentary about the project, 'Driving on Ice,' will air on NBC." While BMW "produced the documentary and is paying for it to air as part of an advertising contract with the network, it has the narrative arc and tone of an independent documentary, not a commercial." The documentary shows how Scully, who "in the past has designed racecars, adapts his expertise to bobsleds, which present aerodynamic challenges including being sideways in turns." Introduced during the commercial breaks for the documentary "will be two new Olympic-themed spots for the brand, with one featuring video of the bobsled being developed and no BMW vehicles, and the other taking a more traditional approach, with the automaker’s cars and SUV’s driving along snowy roads to transport athletes to training sessions." TV and digital advertising for the campaign, as well as social media strategy, is by Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, N.Y., part of MDC. Production of the documentary is by UM Studios, the "content arm of Universal McCann, which is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies." BMW of North America VP/Marketing Trudy Hardy said, "The way we entered this sponsored relationship is much deeper than the rights to the rings. We wanted to find ways to make our athletes’ performance better" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/3).
NHL Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist has "entered into a partnership with Swedish men's underwear and bodywear brand Bread & Boxers," according to Karyn Monget of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. Lundqvist will "collaborate with the brand's owners Alexander Palmgren and Henrik Lindahl on a seasonal basis to create capsule collections and special editions." He also will "appear as the face of the brand in visual imagery for advertising and marketing campaigns and on select packaging for a series of 'Lundqvist's Favorites.'" Lundqvist said, "I always wanted to be involved in building a brand, but the right opportunity hadn't presented itself until now." He added, "I wore the products and loved them. It's that simple." Lundqvist said of the ad campaign, "The campaign was shot in Gothenburg, my hometown, so my feelings for southwest Sweden run deep. The vignettes show a lot of waterfront imagery." Lundqvist and Palmgren "are friends from Gothenburg" (WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY, 1/2). Meanwhile, Lundqvist on Thursday unveiled a goalie mask "paying homage" to Yankees heroes of the past, which he will wear during the Rangers' Stadium Series games against the Devils and Islanders at Yankee Stadium. The mask will feature "a tricked-out paint scheme that has Yankee pinstripes down the front and images of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig on the right side." It was painted by Dave Gunnarsson (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/2).