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Volume 21 No. 2
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Coke, MasterCard push golf awareness higher

Tenured PGA Tour partners Coca-Cola and MasterCard both earned record awareness levels among tour fans in 2012, according to the results of the annual PGA Tour Sponsor Loyalty survey, conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment.

Forty-one percent of tour fans surveyed correctly identified Coke as the official soft drink of the PGA Tour (46.5 percent among avid fans, 35.5 percent among casual fans). That’s the brand’s highest level ever dating to our first measurement of the property, in 2008. The 5.6 percentage-point increase over the 2011 survey was also the biggest improvement among all the tour’s sponsors. A tour sponsor since 2002, Coke is the official soft drink of the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour and the Tour, and it has beverage-category exclusivity for carbonated soft drinks, juices, waters, teas and sports drinks.

Coca-Cola is heavily involved with the Tour Championship in its hometown of Atlanta.
Sharon Byers, senior vice president of sports and entertainment marketing partnerships for Coca-Cola North America, cited a combination of factors for the brand’s increased recognition.

“Over the last two years, we’ve focused on the evolution of growing our presence at the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola and building a world-class golf experience for fans on course and those viewing at home,” Byers said. “We’ve expanded and improved our on-site branding and activation. We’ve elevated our presence from just concession areas to merchandise areas to on-course branding for tournament and TV audiences, and we’ve executed a growing slate of on-site fan-engagement programs.”

The push coincides with a six-year extension the Atlanta-based company signed in 2010 with the PGA Tour ensuring that the Tour Championship will remain in its hometown market through 2016. On the business-to-business front, during the Tour Championship, Coke hosted its first Technology Forum by Coca-Cola, which brought in more than 15 of its partner vendors for a state-of-the-business address and charity event.

Coke’s awareness level among golf fans also makes it one of the most recognized soda relationships in sports. In similar annual studies of the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, NFL and NASCAR, only NASCAR’s Coke deal has a higher recognition level in the soda category (53.4 percent in 2012).

MasterCard, a PGA Tour partner since 1995, also generated its highest total with its third straight year of increased recognition among all fans. The data adds to other good news for the brand from fall 2012: MasterCard’s only other league-level deal is with MLB, and in our annual survey of that league conducted in October, 23 percent of that league’s fans correctly identified the relationship — the highest score in the credit card category within our history of MLB studies. MasterCard reported strong consumer interest in its MasterCard presents Member for a Day campaign, where fans entered a sweepstakes to win a weekend for four at TPC Sawgrass. Fans can also buy the daylong MasterCard Experience at 12 TPC courses, ranging from $94 to $225 per player per round, depending on the course.

Among other key findings:

Nearly 52 percent of fans correctly identified FedEx as a tour sponsor. Among the other sports properties studied, only three partnerships have a higher awareness level within that particular sport’s fan base: NASCAR’s deals with Goodyear (67 percent) and with Coke (53 percent), and Gatorade’s deal with the NFL (57 percent).

Anheuser-Busch’s recognition level was flat compared with 2011 and down 4.5 percentage points from the 2008 survey. The beer maker garnered a 28 percent positive identification rate among all fans, lowest among its official partnerships in our other measured surveys: MLB (49.6 percent), NFL (40 percent) and MLS (38.3 percent). A-B has been an official partner of the PGA Tour since 1994, making it the longest-tenured sponsor in the survey.

Among all fans, 53 percent responded “I’m not sure” when asked to name the PGA Tour’s official hotel, up 10 percentage points from 2011. InterContinental Hotels Group signed a five-year deal with the tour in 2011 to promote its eight hotel brands, especially Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.


For this project, Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, through its Turnkey Intelligence operation, conducted national consumer research surveys among a sample of more than 400 members of the Toluna Online panel who were at least 18 years old. Each survey was conducted Sept. 26-30, a five-day period that followed the last FedEx Cup playoff event, the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola.

Respondents were analyzed based on their general avidity levels. Fans categorized as “avid” were those who responded “4” or “5” to the question “How big a fan are you of the PGA Tour?,” then claimed to “look up scores several times a week or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least 11 tournaments per season” and “have a favorite player.”

Fans categorized as “casual” responded “3” to the same initial question, then claimed to “look up scores several times a month or more often,” “watch/listen/attend at least three tournaments per season” and “have a favorite player.”

When asked to identify official sponsors, respondents selected from a field of companies and brands that was provided to them for each business sector. Only the top-scoring companies and brands are listed in the results published here.
The percentage responses listed have been rounded. The margin of error for each survey is +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Turnkey works with more than 70 retainer-based clients across the major professional leagues in North America, but none is directly affiliated with the PGA Tour.

Are you more or less likely to consider trying a product/service if that product/service is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?
  Avid   Casual
  2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
More likely 69% 67% 57%   41% 44% 36%
Unaffected / less likely 31% 33% 43%   59% 56% 64%
Are you more or less likely to consciously support a company by purchasing its products/services if the company is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?
  Avid   Casual
  2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
More likely 66% 68% 61%   38% 47% 37%
Unaffected / less likely 34% 32% 39%   62% 53% 63%
Are you more or less likely to recommend a product/service to a friend or family member if that product/service is an official sponsor of the PGA Tour?
  Avid   Casual
  2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
More likely 64% 66% 56%   34% 45% 38%
Unaffected / less likely 36% 34% 44%   66% 55% 62%


Subject: How much more likely are fans to consider purchasing/using a PGA Tour sponsor’s product/service if they are aware of the relationship?

To read: 44 percent of PGA Tour fans said they would be more likely to consider using a hotel that is the tour’s official hotel sponsor if they knew which brand had that designation. The rate increased to 70 percent when considering only those fans who correctly knew that Holiday Inn is a PGA Tour official hotel brand.

Category (PGA TOUR SPONSOR) Among All PGA TOUR Fans   Among PGA TOUR Fans Who Correctly Identified Sponsor   Difference
Hotel (Holiday Inn) 44%   70%   +26 percentage points
Airline (United Airlines) 43%   59%   +16
Vodka (Ketel One) 45%   59%   +14
Credit card (MasterCard) 45%   58%   +13
Investment firm (Charles Schwab) 43%   53%   +10
Soft drink (Coca-Cola) 49%   58%   +9
Shipping services (FedEx) 48%   54%   +6
Beer (Anheuser-Busch) 45%   51%   +6
Tire (Bridgestone) 45%   51%   +6
Insurance (Travelers and Aflac)* 43%   47%   +4

* If a fan selected either Travelers or Aflac, that fan became part of the second grouping in this survey question.

Subject: What brands do fans think should be PGA Tour sponsors?

To read: 40 percent of PGA Tour fans said they think United Airlines should be a PGA Tour sponsor, compared with 33 percent who think American Airlines should have a PGA Tour deal. Those numbers became 68 percent and 18 percent, respectively, when considering only those PGA Tour fans who correctly knew that United is the tour’s official airline sponsor.

  Among all PGA Tour fans   Among PGA Tour Fans Who Correctly Identified Sponsor
PGA Tour Sponsor/Competitor Response Rates Difference   Response Rates Difference
United Airlines/American Airlines 40% / 33% +7 percentage points   68% / 18% +50
FedEx/UPS 61% / 39% +22   79% / 38% +41
Anheuser-Busch/MillerCoors 44% / 27% +17   68% / 27% +41
Charles Schwab/E*Trade 35% / 28% +7   64% / 25% +39
Coca-Cola/Pepsi 58% / 44% +14   74% / 37% +37
Holiday Inn/Best Western 31% / 26% +5   57% / 23% +34
Bridgestone/Michelin 40% / 40% 0   68% / 38% +30
Travelers/State Farm 28% / 40% -12   61% / 34% +27
MasterCard/Visa 51% / 56% -5   74% / 48% +26
Ketel One/Grey Goose 20% / 32% -12   51% / 29% +22

Notes: Fans could select both the official sponsor and the competitor if they chose to do so. The one specific competing company listed was selected by Turnkey for consideration in the survey file.

Which of the following is an official sponsor of PGA Tour?

  Avid   Casual
Shipping Servic es 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
FedEx* 56.5% 62.6% 58.1%   46.5% 56.5% 44.2%
UPS 12.5% 11.6% 13.2%   9.5% 9.5% 15.1%
DHL 4.5% 5.6% 4.4%   3.0% 3.5% 1.5%
U.S. Postal Service 4.0% 4.0% 5.9%   3.0% 2.0% 2.5%
I’m not sure 21.0% 15.2% 18.5%   38.0% 28.5% 33.7%

Despite seeing a drop in awareness among both avid and casual fans, FedEx scored the highest recognition marks of any sponsor in the survey for the second consecutive year. The company and the PGA Tour in February announced a five-year extension of their sponsorship deal, through 2017, most prominently featuring the FedEx Cup competition. The assets in the extension remained virtually the same, but beginning with the 2012 season there was a greater emphasis placed on integrating FedEx into the tour’s international television broadcasts to more than 200 countries, as well as a greater digital presence internationally.

  Avid   Casual
Soft Drink 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Coca-Cola* 46.5% 37.9% 41.0%   35.5% 33.0% 28.6%
Pepsi 13.5% 18.2% 16.6%   11.5% 18.5% 11.1%
Dr Pepper 3.5% 4.0% 3.9%   4.0% 4.0% 5.5%
I’m not sure 25.0% 27.3% 29.8%   42.5% 37.0% 46.7%

Coca-Cola recorded its best PGA Tour score and was the second most-recognized brand in the survey in 2012. The Tour Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta played host to the PGA Tour Executive Women’s Day for the first time in 2012. The event featured 200 of the city’s top women executives for a day of networking and golf-related activities. Coca-Cola endorser and ATP player John Isner, who played his college tennis at Georgia, was on site to help create awareness for golf becoming an Olympic sport at the 2016 Summer Games. Isner also hosted a Google Hangout event.

  Avid   Casual
BEER 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Anheuser-Busch* 28.0% 28.3% 24.9%   27.5% 27.5% 25.1%
Coors 8.5% 14.1% 9.3%   10.5% 7.5% 5.5%
Heineken 12.0% 7.6% 8.3%   6.5% 5.0% 6.5%
Miller 9.0% 10.6% 15.1%   5.5% 12.5% 10.1%
I’m not sure 32.0% 26.3% 36.1%   44.0% 40.5% 46.2%

Michelob Ultra in April started distributing nationwide its Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea & Lemonade alcoholic beverage. Michelob also gave golf fans ages 21 and older the chance to win a trip for four to TPC Sawgrass in the 2012 Michelob Ultra TPC Sweepstakes, and the company ran the Monster Mulligan Ultra Challenge on its Facebook page and the Ultra Foursome Golf Trip Sweepstakes as well.

  Avid   Casual
Credi t Card 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010

MasterCard* 29.0% 30.3% 27.3%   24.0% 20.5% 21.6%
American Express 17.0% 20.7% 24.4%   19.0% 30.5% 26.1%
Visa 20.0% 21.7% 24.4%   15.5% 14.0% 16.6%
I’m not sure 26.5% 20.2% 18.5%   36.0% 27.0% 33.2%

MasterCard in March extended through 2016 its presenting sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, a relationship that began in 2004. At the 2012 tournament, MasterCard donated approximately $160,000 to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies as a result of its pledge to give $10 for every person who “liked” its Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard page on Facebook. Beginning with the 2013 tournament, MasterCard cardholders can purchase tickets to a MasterCard cardholder hospitality tent and have discounts on tournament tickets and golf lessons with a PGA teaching professional on Saturday and Sunday of the event.

  Avid   Casual
Tire 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Bridgestone* 33.5% NA NA   20.0% NA NA
Goodyear 17.0% NA NA   11.0% NA NA
Michelin 8.5% NA NA   16.5% NA NA
Firestone 11.5% NA NA   4.0% NA NA
I’m not sure 26.5% NA NA   47.0% NA NA

Bridgestone has been the title sponsor since 2006 of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational played at the Firestone (Ohio) Country Club, and it’s been a PGA Tour sponsor since 2007. Among Bridgestone’s roster of endorsers are 2012 FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker and major championship winners Fred Couples, Nick Price, Davis Love III and Lee Trevino.

  Avid   Casual
Hotel 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
InterContinental Hotels Group* 9.0% 9.1% 6.3%   6.0% 6.5% 4.5%
Hilton 6.0% 13.6% 11.7%   7.5% 9.0% 10.6%
Best Western 3.0% 5.6% 4.9%   4.5% 4.5% 4.0%
Wyndham 6.0% 12.1% 9.8%   1.0% 6.5% 5.5%
I’m not sure 46.5% 35.9% 42.9%   59.5% 50.5% 53.3%

InterContinental Hotels Group brand Crowne Plaza signed an endorsement deal with golfer Rickie Fowler and launched an ad campaign titled “It’s Good to be Rickie” that ran from April until July. Also, as part of the hotel’s effort to emphasize one of its primary colors, plum, an eight-foot-tall “plum-o-meter” was placed near the course entrance at the PGA Tour Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and free weekend tickets were distributed to fans who wore plum for the event’s first round.

  Avid   Casual
Airline 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
United* 19.0% 17.7% 8.8%   22.0% 15.5% 8.0%
American 13.0% 10.6% 12.2%   14.0% 13.0% 13.6%
Southwest 9.5% 16.2% 4.9%   8.0% 10.5% 8.0%
Delta 9.5% 9.1% 21.5%   6.0% 6.5% 17.1%
I’m not sure 36.5% 31.8% 38.1%   45.0% 43.5% 44.2%

United Airlines saw a four percentage-point increase in recognition to garner its highest survey marks. The airline in 2010 replaced 25-year tour sponsor Delta and has seen an increase in awareness each year since. The AT&T National teamed with United in 2012 to create the United Airlines Fairway Club, a VIP lounge that included a full menu of specialty food and beverage, overlooking the 10th hole at Congressional Country Club.

  Avid   Casual
Insurance 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Aflac* 22.5% NA NA   16.5% NA NA
Geico 20.0% 10.1% 9.8%   13.5% 9.0% 10.6%
Travelers* 18.0% 18.2% 15.6%   14.0% 12.5% 9.1%
State Farm 22.0% 12.6% 11.2%   9.5% 8.5% 5.0%
Allstate 10.5% 8.1% 9.3%   12.0% 8.0% 9.1%
Nationwide 13.0% 16.2% 16.1%   6.5% 12.5% 11.1%
I’m not sure 28.0% 25.3% 31.2%   42.0% 39.5% 47.7%

Aflac outscored all other insurance companies in awareness numbers in 2012, which was the first year it had a tour-level deal and was listed in the survey. State Farm, Geico, Allstate and Travelers all had increased scores over last year, while Nationwide, which ended its title sponsorship of the PGA Tour’s developmental tour, saw a decrease. Nationwide is still presenting sponsor of the Memorial Tournament, while Travelers has title sponsorship of a PGA Tour event.

  Avid   Casual
Vodka 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Ketel One* 14.5% NA NA   15.0% NA NA
Grey Goose 17.5% NA NA   10.0% NA NA
Smirnoff 16.0% NA NA   11.0% NA NA
Absolut 7.5% NA NA   9.0% NA NA
I’m not sure 36.0% NA NA   51.0% NA NA

Ketel One, a tour partner since 2005, is the presenting sponsor of the Deutsche Bank Championship’s Wedgwood Club hospitality venue and sponsor of the Ketel One Champions Club at the Travelers Championship. New to the Players Championship’s stadium village in 2012 was the Ketel One Vodka Bar at the center of the village.

  Avid   Casual
Investment Firm 2012 2011 2010   2012 2011 2010
Charles Schwab* 28.5% NA NA   23.5% NA NA
E*Trade 13.5% NA NA   11.0% NA NA
Fidelity 6.5% NA NA   8.0% NA NA
Scottrade 8.5% NA NA   4.0% NA NA
TD Ameritrade 5.0% NA NA   4.5% NA NA
I’m not sure 35.0% NA NA   49.0% NA NA

Charles Schwab is title sponsor of both the Champions Tour’s seasonlong points challenge and its seasonending Charles Schwab Cup Championship tournament. The firm in 2012 launched a golf-centered website,, that features “The Mentor Project,” a documentary film series in which PGA Tour legends are teamed with newcomers to the sport to give advice and direction.

* Official PGA Tour sponsor
NA: Not applicable; 2012 was the first year this company or category was measured.