Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Plus Side of Corporate Sponsorship

We have all known for years that Tiger Woods is basically a lock to appear in 2 Buick events every year - the Invitational and the Open in Michigan, but not the now defunct Buick Championship (aka GHO). Since Buick sponsors Woods, he is expected to show up at the events they sponsor on Tour. He obliges.

He would have shown up to Torrey Pines anyway since he loves the place, but showing up to Lansing, Michigan, would probably not be on his normal list of stops were it not for the carmaker. In effect, corporate sponsorship on the PGA Tour turns out to be a positive for the people in Lansing. They get to see Tiger Woods every year, almost without fail, because of the association between player, tour, and corporation.

The same thing is about to happen at the Colonial. Now sponsored by the Crowne Plaza hotel chain, they have centered their entire marketing campaign this year around Phil Mickelson. The deal is likely to produce some funny commercials if the reporting done on the shoots has been accurate. At the same time, though, that campaign is also used to promote Colonial. As a result, Crowne Plaza has effectively pushed Phil Mickelson into the field for the Colonial this year.

Jimmy Burch, in the Star-Telegram in DFW, reports on that development.

By building this year’s marketing campaign around Phil Mickelson, the No. 2 player in the world golf rankings, the Crowne Plaza folks opened the door for Lefty’s return to Fort Worth. As things stand, he’ll be joined during the May 22-25 tournament by three other top-10 golfers (Furyk, K.J. Choi and defending champ Rory Sabbatini, a Fort Worth resident).

Don’t be surprised if Steve Stricker, the No. 4 player in the world rankings, joins the list of confirmed competitors in the near future. All of that brightens the outlook of Kevin Kowalski, Crowne Plaza’s senior vice president for worldwide brand management.

“We’ve got a better field. We’ve got a relationship with the No. 2 golfer in the world that we’re excited about … [a player] that we think will represent us really well,” Kowalski said. “I think we’re kind of firing on all cylinders now.”

Is Phil a catalyst for the other top 10 golfers in the field? Not necessarily, but Phil's appearance may do wonders for attendance and support that was lacking last year due to rain and a lackluster field. While I think the PGA Tour did the event a huge injustice by breaking up the Texas swing paired with the Nelson, a Mickelson appearance may help to undo some of that broken momentum.

No comments: