Banks using golf
as major marketing tool
One of Tiger Woods' favorite golf tournaments is the Deutsche Bank-SAP
Open in Germany, which he has won three times since 1999.
"I look forward to getting on the autobahn and letting it go,"
His relationship with the German bank has really taken off. Deutsche
Bank is trying to raise its brand recognition in the United States, and
it believes it has the perfect combination - Woods and the PGA Tour.
Deutsche Bank last year signed a four-year deal to be the title sponsor
of a $5 million tournament outside Boston that will end on Labor Day. It
will include the world's No. 1 player because proceeds will go to Woods'
"Partnering with the PGA Tour and the Tiger Woods Foundation ...
is a powerful way to deepen client relationships and raise the profile
of our brand in the U.S.," Deutsche Bank Americas CEO Seth Waugh said.
Deutsche Bank isn't alone.
Jack Nicklaus has a non-golf logo on his bag for the first time in 42
years on tour after signing a sponsorship deal with The Royal Bank of Scotland.
RBS, the fifth-largest bank in the world, also signed Charles Howell
III and Luke Donald of England, two rising stars on the PGA Tour who both
won the Jack Nicklaus Award given to the best college player. It plans
to build a marketing campaign around Nicklaus and the majors, and is looking
into other areas in golf to expand its U.S. presence.
The two banks "are trying to increase their market share in the
U.S. and North America. You see that in terms of marketing investments
and the acquisitions they've made," said Tom Wade, chief marketing
officer for the PGA Tour. "Golf is the most targeted sport for affluent
people and profitable customers.
"The demographics are there, and the interest in golf is high."
The United Bank of Switzerland was a step ahead of RBS and Deutsche Bank.
It began sponsoring the UBS Warburg Cup two years ago.
The matches involve six players over 40 and six players over 50. Arnold
Palmer and Gary Player will return as playing captains of their respective
teams - the United States and the Rest of the World - when the UBS Cup
is played at Sea Island, Ga., in December.
"All of these banks look on the United States as significant territory,
but it's also to gain a global presence," said IMG president Alastair
Johnston, who was involved in the deals involving RBS, Deutsche Bank and
And it's not just European banks.
Bank of America signed a four-year deal as the title sponsor of Colonial,
while Wachovia is the title sponsor of a $5 million tournament in Charlotte,
Deutsche Bank figures to have an edge on both of them since Woods will
be playing in its tournament at the TPC of Boston. He probably won't play
at Colonial, where Annika Sorenstam will be the featured attraction, or
at the Wachovia Championship.
Woods does not have an endorsement deal with Deutsche Bank, although
he gets large appearance fees - about $2 million each of the last two years
- to play in its European tour event. The relationship helped bring the
bank to the Boston area.
"I got to know them pretty good during the pro-ams and over dinner,
and it was a natural fit," Woods said. "They wanted to get more
of a U.S. involvement, and they thought having a tour event was a pretty
The Royal Bank of Scotland, founded in 1727, has been a sponsor of the
British Open for more than a century and recently became the official bank
of the European tour.
Instead of spending more than $25 million over four years to sponsor
a tournament, RBS is building its campaign around Nicklaus, along with
two players from Generation Next.
"The first thing we looked at was doing a tournament, but why be
a 'Me, too?'" RBS spokesman Howard Moody said. "One of the issues
that evolves around a tournament is the cost. It's no accident that some
tournaments don't have sponsors. It's called value."
Nicklaus is no longer as visible on the PGA Tour - the two tournaments
he has played this month in Florida are twice as many as he played all
of last year.
Still, he remains one of the icons in the game, particularly when it
comes to majors.
Johnston said RBS plans to market its brand around the majors, which
will include corporate hospitality and TV advertising.
Moody, who doesn't play golf, is intrigued with how many historic shots
are associated with Nicklaus and the majors, such as the image of Nicklaus
raising his putter as the birdie putt falls at No. 17 in the 1986 Masters.
He compared the RBS marketing campaign in the United States to a rope
with various strands of activity.
"How many strands, we don't know. But Jack is pivotal," Moody
said. "We will look at some of the magical moments Jack has been involved
in and build promotions around it. When you weave them all together, this
will be different. It won't be a 'Me, too.' It won't be like anything else
The only common thread is that European banks are finding golf to be
a good place to reach their American audience.
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