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Volume 22 No. 35
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Korn Ferry tees up first sports sponsorship

Korn Ferry is taking over title sponsorship of the Web.com Tour as the global executive search and consulting agency puts it name on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit now known as the Korn Ferry Tour.

Financial terms of the 10-year deal were not disclosed but the name change is effective immediately, with the newly christened Korn Ferry Tour to debut at the Wichita Open on June 20.

Korn Ferry’s title deal also includes an official marketing partnership with the PGA Tour. The company is becoming the “official organizational consulting and talent acquisition firm” and “official leadership development firm” of the PGA Tour, the PGA Tour Champions, and Korn Ferry Tour.

Korn Ferry also will assume sponsorship of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance in Evansville, Ind., the third and final event in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The developmental tour’s Q-School will also be known as the Korn Ferry Qualifying Tournament.

Web.com had been the title sponsor of the tour since 2012, but the sponsorship came back to market after the website development and marketing company was sold last year.

No structural changes are expected under Korn Ferry’s new sponsorship of the tour, which features 27 tournaments played in 17 states and in four countries outside the U.S.

“The mechanics will stay the same,” said Alex Baldwin, president of the Korn Ferry Tour. “At this time we focused on launching with no changes or alterations.”

For Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry, this is the company’s first sports sponsorship deal, though the firm is well known within the industry as teams and properties have hired the company for high-level executive and head coaching searches for years. Most recently, the Big Ten Conference engaged Korn Ferry in hiring new Commissioner Kevin Warren.

The deal also comes as the search space heats up with teams, leagues and other sports properties growing more sophisticated in their business operations and hiring.

“It is our first foray into anything like this,” said Jill Wiltfong, Korn Ferry chief marketing officer. “We have been looking at ways to tell our story. We had talked to some agencies about sponsoring players but it didn’t feel like the right fit. This is an opportunity to tell our story of advancement, development and the impact we can make.”

Wasserman represented Korn Ferry in the deal as the company looks to expand its brand beyond C-suite executive placement services. “We are looking to expand our reach,” Wiltfong said, adding that the company was drawn to the player development aspects as Korn Ferry boosts its own executive development and consulting services.

“We changed our business model into a more diversified audience,” Wiltfong said. “It’s a perfect fit. It’s important that it is a development tour. It is filled with stories of development and that is what we are about.”

The Korn Ferry deal comes just months after Baldwin was named president of the developmental tour in January.

“It was literally 10 days after I began the job,” Baldwin said of when discussions began with Korn Ferry. “It was pretty quick in our world from conversations to ultimately the final agreement.”