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Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

Phil Mickelson entered the hotel ballroom and walked across the stage, where an exclusive gathering of KPMG partners awaited.

In his right arm, Mickelson cradled the claret jug like a football, the trophy from his stunning come-from-behind win at the British Open last year.

And here he was, at a KPMG outing in Orlando soon after his fifth major championship victory last summer, sharing the trophy with major players from the Big Four accounting firm, including Chairman John Veihmeyer.

Mickelson’s hat gives KPMG great visibility in golf.
It’s moments like that when KPMG executives know their endorsement deal with Mickelson is paying off.

“It was very cool,” said Shawn Quill, KPMG’s director of sports marketing and sponsorships, and an 11-year veteran with the firm. “It’s the little things he does, like bringing the claret jug, that makes connections with people. ... Golf is the perfect fit for us, and being with Phil is just a powerful relationship.”

Endorsing Mickelson is not an inexpensive proposition. KPMG, which has sponsored the front of Mickelson’s hat since 2008, pays in the mid-to-high seven figures annually for that space, industry experts say. Such an arrangement includes rights to his likeness, four annual golf outings and branding on one of the sport’s most popular golfers.

The two sides agreed last month to extend the relationship another three years, through the 2016 season. Quill negotiated the deal with Mickelson’s longtime agent, Steve Loy. CAA Sports is KPMG’s consultant on its golf deals.

Mickelson comes at a premium because he’s one of just a handful of golfers — another being Tiger Woods — whose round will be televised regardless of how he’s playing, virtually guaranteeing airtime.

“We don’t have a lot of activity outside of golf,” said Quill, who expanded the program last year by signing LPGA star Stacy Lewis to a hat deal. “Golf is the right demographic match for us, especially between those in the C-level suite and golf. … The golf course is still a good place to do business, get to know someone. Accounting and consulting are relationship businesses, and Phil is a master at that. He’s got a billion stories to tell.”

Another benefit to the longevity of KPMG’s deal is that by now Mickelson knows many of the guests at the golf outings by name, enabling him to add a personal touch to events that are purposely kept intimate. Typically, the guest list is no longer than 30 to 35 people.

They’ve also teamed up on a charitable activation called “Blue for Books,” in which three books are donated to the nonprofit First Book for the sale of each blue hat at $29.99 each. Net proceeds go to KPMG’s “Family for Literacy” campaign.

“We’re very happy with where we are, but we are looking to continue to grow our presence in golf,” Quill said.

Technology partners lead the activation around this week’s NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.

SAP is helping fans attending the league’s Jam Session event share their experiences across social media by giving them RFID when they enter the fan fest.

First-year NBA sponsor Samsung will be showcasing its devices and have on-court arena apron branding for all three nights of the weekend. That court visibility is new advertising inventory that only a handful of teams have sold this season.

Cisco will be introducing its “digital mirrors,” which allow fans to try on licensed products, virtually. Sprite again title sponsors the Saturday night Slam Dunk Contest, while Sprint sponsors the Sunday night All-Star Game pregame concert. Pop superstar Jason Derulo and Grammy-nominated recording artist Mack Wilds are scheduled to perform.

Kia is presenting sponsor of the game broadcast on Sunday and sponsors a fan MVP vote. New NBA sponsor Diageo’s Ciroc brand will be presenting sponsor of “Club Enebea” at the House of Blues on Thursday night, while BBVA Compass sponsors the Rising Stars Challenge game in a sweepstakes through which fans can win trips to the NBA playoffs and Finals.

Among other partners: Bud Light will sponsor a postgame party; AmEx is helping get fans behind the scenes through its “Off the Court” digital platform on; Foot Locker’s “Kicks of All-Star” program will highlight the weekend’s sneaker hits on social media; and Spalding will launch a four-part vignette on highlighting its 30th anniversary as the NBA’s official ball.

Meanwhile, with the league coming to New Orleans, it marks a return to the place where the NBA’s first Day of Service community outreach took place six years ago. The now-annual program is being supported this year by sponsors Adidas, Kia, SAP and State Farm.