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Volume 22 No. 7

Research and Ratings

It’s not exactly priceless, but Mastercard’s PGA Tour sponsorship certainly has paid off.

Thirty percent of PGA Tour fans correctly identified Mastercard as the property’s official credit card, the highest recognition rate the brand has received in the annual Sponsor Breakthrough survey conducted for Sports Business Journal by Turnkey Intelligence. The brand spent an estimated $2 million during men’s professional golf tournament telecasts last season, an increase of 22 percent compared to the previous year, according to Mastercard began its PGA Tour relationship in 1995 and trails only Anheuser-Busch (1994) as the property’s most-tenured partner.

Recognition compared to 2017

+9% points: Charles Schwab — Chuck aired 13 different spots and increased its prime-time ad presence.

+4% points: Mastercard — The brand also enjoyed its best-ever recognition rate in our recent MLB survey.

+9% points: Coca-Cola — Logo was everywhere during Tiger’s Tour Championship victory.

-5% points: Ace Hardware — Even with little competitor presence, the brand struggled to gain recognition.

Other notable findings from the data:

■ Bridgestone’s 38 percent recognition level was a record high for the brand. The 7 percentage-point increase also made golf the tire’s most-recognized sports partnership, pushing it past the 32 percent it garnered in our NHL survey conducted during last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs. In April, Bridgestone extended its PGA Tour sponsorship through 2022.

■ Coca-Cola, which joined the tour in 2002 and is signed on through 2020, also enjoyed its highest recognition rate (43 percent) in the survey’s history.


Ad effectiveness

Turnkey draws from its database of more than 20,000 sports fans to analyze the impact of creative spots running on PGA Tour programming.


Grade: 9 (excellent)
During a round of golf, a billboard advertising Schwab’s $4.95 online trades and satisfaction guarantee looms over a broker and his friend. The agitated broker, whose firm doesn’t offer these perks, hits his ball into the bushes. The integration of humor resulted in a high resonance among golf fans of Charles Schwab’s branding, according to Turnkey.



Grade: 7 (fair)
The ad, which featured golfer Justin Thomas being able to spend more time with his dad due to the ease of the mobile app, performed reasonably well among PGA Tour fans. Although viewers reported liking the Publicis-created spot, Citi’s branding was not considered as being distinctive.

Since 2007, Turnkey Intelligence has been benchmarking detailed sponsor performance and breakthrough metrics for Sports Business Journal across Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, NASCAR, PGA Tour and NCAA. Presented here are the brands, per category, that were most likely to be selected in this year’s PGA Tour study.

As we review PGA Tour sponsor recall, we can’t resist the relationship of the results to the game of golf itself — focus, practice and every swing means something.

In golf, nothing can be taken for granted — even a two-foot putt gets our attention. The same can be said about sports sponsorship. As sponsors, we need to continually focus on the task at hand. Competition can be a distraction and dilute our focus, but — as every good golfer will tell us — you must be constantly working on improving your game.

As we look at the PGA Tour sponsor recall, we see FedEx’s sponsor identification at an impressive 56 percent; however, it is worth noting that recall is down 3 points from the previous year. The challenge of any title sponsor is to not get lost in the title — for fans to see it but not see only it, and to keep that distinction between the title and the brand fresh and approachable to the consumer.

As we look at these 13 sponsors, it is notable that there are six companies in the financial services category. Although Aflac has moved on, sponsor confusion is reflected in the results. Category clutter makes it even harder for these brands, which have to shout above the rest.

Charles Schwab’s sponsorship of the Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions has resulted in a 9 percentage point improvement year over year. It is an investment spend, but a spend that has created results.

Time after time I have seen advertisers cut costs to save money. If you begin to retreat in any battle, you lose. As advertisers, it should be about proper value — building and creating incremental value, and that investment will be rewarded by the consumer.

In addition, we see great improvement with Coca-Cola as it works hard to build its presence with the Tour Championship in the company’s home market of Atlanta, while equally promoting Dasani sparkling water with great humor — making the game of golf more accessible to the everyday fan.