Feb 3, 2010

Apparently, the Super Bowl takes place on Sunday (anyone else thrown off by the Pro Bowl being before the Super Bowl?) and the Super Bowl pre-game show now has an official sponsor; Callaway Golf.

The deal marks the first-ever Super Bowl pregame sponsorship struck by a stand-alone golf company, and Callaway’s first involvement with the Big Game.

While the Super Bowl — watched by 80% of U.S. golfers — is always a good fit with the golf industry because of seasonality, this Super Bowl was an ideal time for Callaway to jump in, Brian Groves, VP/brand management, tells Marketing Daily. “We want to get the season off to the fastest start possible this year,” he says.

In part, he says, the decision was due to an agreement the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company struck with CBS last fall, a plan that involves the Super Bowl Today pre-game sponsorship — 30 minutes of programming that will include a 90-second spot to launch its new Diablo Edge and an appearance by Callaway Golf Staff Professional Phil Mickelson — as well as a presence during March Madness and the PGA Tour later this spring.

But it’s also good timing because golf appears to be ready to shake off its slump. Last week, Callaway said its sales for the year fell 15% to $951 million, and while there was a gain in the fourth quarter, the company called the year its most challenging in recent history. “We feel very confident that the industry will bounce back with the economy,” Groves says, “and while it won’t be to 2007 levels, this new Diablo Edge line, geared toward younger, more competitive golfers, will have strong appeal.” (via Media Post)

Clearly, Callaway is of the mindset of spending money on marketing to buy its way out of its sales slump (its very “New Deal” no?), and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better media buy than the Super Bowl…unless of course, you’re Pepsi.

The most impressive statistic though? “The Super Bowl is watched by 80% of U.S. golfers“.  Super Bowl viewing usually approaches 100 million viewers in the U.S., and lets say that one-fourth of those people watch the Super Bowl pre-game show where Callaway is advertising.  Last year’s Masters, a typical place for a Callaway golf advertisement, drew about 17 million fans.  Simply put?  Callaway can expect approximately 8 million more viewers during their Super Bowl pre-game ads than they would during arguably the most popular golf tournament of the year.  The Super Bowl is such an impressive event that other sports can advertise during that time, hit a comparable share of fans of that sport and hit more people over all…during the Pre-Game show. (Aside: of course, all of the people watching the pre-game show won’t be golf fans, but still, if 80% of U.S. golfers watch the game, its not outlandish to assume that a large portion watch the pre-game)

That’s pretty impressive.

One last point.  As mentioned in Media Post, this is the first time a stand alone golf company has bought the sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl pre-game show.  Why now?  Could this be the first of many moves we see by golf companies to try to off-set the loss of Tiger Woods?  If Woods doesn’t play any of the 4 majors, ratings will definitely suffer (even more so for non-majors).  Lower ratings equal fewer viewers seeing Callaway ad’s during those tournaments.  Maybe Callaway is looking to grab the bull by the horns and target the large portion of their audience that they know will be watching the Super Bowl, in lieu of the falling ratings that are expected for the 2010 golf season?

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