Golf Meets Social Media

Author: Sam Laird @ Mashable

Even golf — that centuries-old Scottish sport stereotyped as rich old white guys puttering around in goofy outfits — has hopped aboard the social mediatrain.

At the Northern Trust Open last week week, golfers sponsored by the TaylorMade brand are sporting hats emblazoned with the Twitter hashtag #driverlove. The hashtag references TaylorMade’s larger campaign that plays off the special connection that some players feel with their clubs. It appears to be the first time a hashtag or explicit social media reference has appeared on PGA Tour golfers or playing surfaces.

While other sports have added interesting social media twists to their players and fields, golf is a game deeply rooted in tradition and not necessarily eager to humor cutting-edge fashion trends and tech fads. But that leaves an opening for brands willing to innovate, according to TaylorMade’s chief marketing officer, Bob Maggiore.

“For our sport as whole, the social media space has really been a slow-moving river,” Maggiore told Mashable. “So it’s interesting for us, because we’ve kind of given up on doing certain things the old way. We like to get out in front and try different things.”

TaylorMade is among golf’s most prominent brands, and Maggiore said the company had a record setting year financially in 2011. He said the hashtag plan was hatched in December, and has already sparked a modest “cult following” among golfers and fans after less than two days of practice rounds and pro-am play at the Northern Trust. (The first round officially tees off Thursday morning.)

The front of the hat features a simple heart design, and the #driverlove hashtag is emblazoned on the side of the cap, where Maggiore said a pedestrian company logo would usually appear. According to Maggiore, the hashtagged hat is an example of how social media allows TaylorMade to market in more abstract — but possibly more effective — ways.

“Versus just directing people to these brand homes, we’re able to get people engaged with these bigger, great ideas, like here that it’s okay to love your golf equipment,” he said. “The hashtag has been really powerful in our TV spots, but once we activate it with live athletes it’s going to be that much more powerful.”

At the Northern Trust, top TaylorMade golfers including Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia are donning the caps. If they make it into the tournament’s final rounds, where there is increased broadcast and fan attention, the hashtag should gain even more attention and drive more conversation.

“We just want people to jump right into the space and get tangled up in the fun that we’re having with it,” Maggiore said. “The win for us is people taking it and going as deep as they want with it.”

Do you think sports teams and brands should do a better job of incorporating social media in their marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments.

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About davidmorganjenkins
I am an experienced international, commercial, strategic business leader delivering customer focussed initiatives for world class leisure & sports brands. I have a credible track record of leadership and senior management experience in particular with business operations, marketing & business development within leisure, sport, ecommerce/retail & B2C sectors. I have a unique creative vision, supported by sound financial management & budgetary responsibility having increased brand awareness, sales & core revenue by 60% & profit 200 % at Football Aid over a 3 year period. In parallel, I am centred on attention to detail ensuring a consistent product offering and the greatest possible customer experience. This is delivered through strong collaborative teamwork and creating a culture of creativity, determination and enthusiasm amongst team members. I possess an ability to cement & develop relationships at all levels and can easily engage, report to & upwardly manage share & stakeholder alliances ensuring delivery of business objectives. Key skills Developing & implementing business plans focussing on sales, profits & volume Bringing sales & marketing strategy to life to inspire customers; making visions/dreams a reality Customer service; driving enhanced customer satisfaction & delivering a reputation for excellence Developing, influencing & implementing plans & partnerships that deliver competitive advantage Effective planning & delivery of multiple channel, venue & geographical programmes & projects Leading & managing operation, marketing & business development teams to believe in their ability to succeed Experience headlines Commercial; sales, strategy, development, marketing, sponsorship, promotion, customers service Business administration: P&L, performance, improvement & operational management Marketing & brand; communications, brand management, development & membership/loyalty Ecommerce & retail; FMCG, optimisation, data (CRM), social media, SEO, PPC & affiliates Technology; CRM, web TV, new media, smart phone/iPhone applications

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