Marketers Tee Off at Ryder Cup – Rebecca Hopkins

September 26, 2014

There’s something special about the Ryder Cup that makes its appeal stretch far beyond the normal realms of golf’s usual fan base.

Returning this weekend, the competition provides a biennial opportunity for marketers to tap into a vast pool of people whose interest in golf starts and stops with the tournament.

Considering how exciting recent editions of the pan-Atlantic competition have been, hype amongst supporters is high.

Brands and sports marketing agencies therefore have returned in abundance, spending more than ever before to capitalise on the international PR opportunity provided by the tournament’s global reach – 500 million people are expected to tune in over the three days.

Diageo, HP and Sky are just a few of the brands at this year’s Ryder Cup harnessing this interest through ads and promotions.

To understand the high regard with which marketers hold the Ryder Cup this year, one need only look at Johnnie Walker, the Scotch whisky manufacturer, whose sponsorship of the European team is its first involvement with the tournament in 17 years.

Stocked with a modern day marketing arsenal of social media, live events and video, it hopes its sports PR activity will reach far more casual sports fans than it is usually able to.

Johnnie Walker and parent company, Diageo, are running a drink awareness campaign, hoping to get 25,000 people to ‘Join the Pact’, a commitment to never drink and drive.

The initiative hopes to reach five million people over the next four years and incorporates subsidised taxi fares from bars and clubs globally.

HP has gone in a slightly different direction, choosing to steer clear of the heavily congested activity in Gleneagles and instead signing a media deal with the Guardian.

HP’s branding will feature across the Guardian’s Ryder Cup content, social media and an interactive course map as it attempts to entice senior level managers with its services.

Finally Sky, which will show 36 hours of live coverage throughout the Ryder Cup, has swapped its traditional classical ads for one that incorporates a remix of Public Enemy’s, Bring the Noise.

The broadcaster hopes the creative captures the excitement surrounding the tournament, using its spectacle to attract fans who love high-drama from across other sports.

When Sunday’s play comes to a close one of Europe or America will emerge victorious – only one.

The spoils of one of sport’s greatest competitions are not there to be shared amongst the competitors, but for the brands, of whom many stand to win, the story is very different.

Rebecca Hopkins is Managing Director of ENS Ltd, a London-based sports agency tasked with promoting and protecting brands in sport. They specialise in sports PR, crisis management and online public relations.

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