Saturday, July 12, 2008

Brand image of golf

A columnist in Golf Magazine mocks the experience of watching golf on TV… all those commercials directed at sexual failure, urinary problems and other cringe-producing ailments. They project an image of decrepitude!

It’s a good point. A golf match interrupted by such commercials leaves the impression that golf fans are old guys worried about their, er, shafts when not focusing on their putters. BusinessWeek (5.26.08) notes that participation among casual golfers fell more than 7 percent between 2003 and ‘07. Companies in the BusinessWeek/Golf Digest golf-stock index declined 15.5% over seven years vs. the nearly 11% gain in S&P 500 stocks.

Golf may be in decline – and its image of stodginess cannot be ignored as a factor. Improvements in any sport’s image must cut across, and permeate, the entire experience – from playing the game to seeing the ads.

For golf, I would recommend the following three-pronged approach:
1 Make the game easier and more beginner-friendly. Expand the hole from a few inches to three feet in diameter. There would be more hole-in-ones, fewer three putts and faster play. The ball should be bigger too – more like a tennis ball – so that it’s easier to find in tall grass.
2 Introduce Disney-style themes. Why should every course be the same 18 fairways of green grass and yellow flags? An eco-park would have deer and windmills. An urban nightmare would resemble Grand Theft Auto, with thugs lurking behind twisted cars to steal your balls. Let Hooters sponsor and design a course – and Hanna Montana – and Martha Stewart.
3 Exclude sponsors and advertisers who taint the sport’s image. To grow, golf should be about youth, not retirement options. Any company marketing products for sexual dysfunction and urinary pressures would still be able to reach their buyers during the CBS Evening News.



rmf said...

So those shortsighted golf moguls are maximizing current revenues at the cost of undermining their brand.

On the other hand if Tiger Woods were to celebrate Cialis while Phil Mickelson revealed that the real reason he's always behind a tree is because he's always got to go, well maybe we could just turn this whole thing around.


brandsinger said...

Great images, rmf. You should be a novelist.
And you raise another level of brand association issues -- Tiger has his own brand to protect and would never directly link it to a product that casts aspersions on his heroic qualities.

Anonymous said...

Here is the problem with televised golf: it's too quiet. Even the announcers whisper, even though no one can hear them out on the fairways. It's like a sport played in a library, where some omniscient crone presses a bony finger to her lips whenever enthusiasm erupts. Why not cheer for Tiger as he eyes that ball on the tee? Jeer as a faltering player shuffles through a sand trap? Let's get a hockey spirit into it. Move the gallery closer and arm them with plexiglass shields. Then you'll get some blood, some passion...and some viewers.

brandsinger said...

Thanks "anonymous"! Another aspiring novelist, obviously. I like your suggestion of infusing some hockey vitality into golf... But also your innovation of holding golf matches in a library. Watch those intellectual traps and dogmatic bunkers!

Anonymous said...

I think there is something to be said for keeping traditions. I like to hear the whispering of the announcers and the muffled clapping of a televised golf match. It reminds me of being a little girl snuggling with my dad on a lazy weekend day. The hockey chants might not be so relaxing.

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