In the golf industry, scoring product successes are more the exception than the norm, and in 2001, no other golf manufacturer had such a diversity of product success than TaylorMade. Riding the success of the 300 Series Driver launch, Hill and Knowlton (H&K) created the first-ever TaylorMade-adidas Golf Writer Cup to launch the new TaylorMade 300 Series Irons and introduce the media to TaylorMade’s core ideals: authentic, innovative and competitive.
H&K secured a prominent golf course for the Ryder Cup style tournament and hand-picked golf, lifestyle and sports media to attend. Media and key executives arrived to an atmosphere that symbolized TaylorMade through and through. To wrap up the event, the inaugural Writer Cup Trophy presentation was conducted on the 18th green followed by a tournament dinner and TaylorMade-adidas Golf presentation in the club house.
TaylorMade-adidas Golf reported its first quarter revenues were up 21% over the previous year to $145 million.
CHALLENGE OR OPPORTUNITY
H&K was hired by TaylorMade just a month before the event was to take place. With little time to act, H&K was presented with multiple challenges, including creating an innovative program to introduce TaylorMade’s new irons to the media, staffing the event and drawing top tier journalists from trade and horizontal publications to the TaylorMade golf tournament as opposed to their competitor’s events.
At the same time, these time constraints presented H&K with an opportunity to showcase our “get in done approach” and deliver a great program, wow the client and achieve powerful results.
Create trade, media and consumer awareness and excitement for the launch of the TaylorMade 300 Series Irons
Highlight the benefits and superiority of the new 300 Series Irons in a practical hands-on environment
Highlight the superiority of the brand over its competitors
Create awareness of the benefits of the TaylorMade ‘for every swing, there is a club’ philosophy over the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach
Build personal relationships between key TaylorMade-adidas Golf executives and members of the media
Attain goals while incorporating the company’s core ideals: Authentic, Innovative and Competitive
Target horizontal lifestyle media in addition to the golf trade media
H&K used the results of specific research to create an exciting media event. Research was conducted into venue locations for the private launch, as well as timing issues and targeting the appropriate media. The client was looking for a new and creative way to preview the clubs to the media before releasing the product at the 2001 PGA Trade Show in Orlando, FL.
H&K answered this call and thus, created the first-ever TaylorMade-adidas Golf Writer Cup. This intimate launch of the new irons featured a golf tournament for media and key executives, modeled after the prestigious Ryder Cup (United States vs. The World).
H&K paid close attention to incorporating the company’s core ideals: authentic, innovative and competitive. H&K secured Falcon’s Fire, a prominent golf course in the Orlando area, as the site for the event. Once the location was determined, H&K created and distributed invitations to the targeted golf, lifestyle and sports media; created an itinerary of events; and designed a logo for the event. As participants were secured for the Writer Cup tournament, H&K ordered each team uniforms and personalized equipment to help ensure the best play possible. To ensure that media would use TaylorMade product, rules for the tournament were designed so that media would tee off using a TaylorMade 300 Series Driver.
Year in and year out, golf trips are planned by competing golf manufacturers trying to gain the media’s attention. H&K and TaylorMade wanted to create a tournament that stood out from the pack: a program that was personal, fun, authentic, competitive and topped with a touch of class – just like TaylorMade.
The event was to take place in Orlando two days prior to the PGA show and provide participants a “sneak preview” of the new 300 Series Irons. In addition, H&K wanted to provide participants access to all of TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s top executives in a non-traditional environment by partnering the media and executives together for a round of golf. This was an extension of H&K’s effort to reach beyond the coverage of TaylorMade’s product and position key executives as pundits for the golf industry. We wanted to build personal relationships between the executives and the media. The event would additionally highlight the superiority of the new clubs and demonstrate the TaylorMade brand’s commitment to excellence.
The media arrived to strategically placed signage and product, both in the clubhouse and on the course. As participants arrived at the course, they were met by bag-pipers playing authentic Scottish music. They then followed a red carpet to their team locker room, where their personalized locker was equipped with an adidas team uniform; adidas golf shoes; TaylorMade golf balls, with either U.S.A. or World logos; and a TaylorMade glove. Media could then warm up on the driving range, where they were custom-fit with a new TaylorMade 300 Series driver of their own.
After the tournament, the winning team was awarded the Writer Cup Trophy. In classic fashion, the US Team defeated their European counterparts in the final match of the day, truly encompassing the “competitive” spirit. Participants were then treated to dinner and a presentation on the new 300 Series Irons, 300 Series Fairway Woods and adidas Traxion Heritage shoes, before heading back to the driving range to test the new irons.
To maximize coverage, H&K timed a presentation from the 300 Series designers to occur at the conclusion of the Writer Cup. Again, in a relaxed environment at the post-match “19th Hole,” writers and editors were educated on TaylorMade and adidas products and philosophy. Writers who arrived late to Orlando, or were attending other manufacturer presentations earlier in the day, were able to get information and then hit the 300 Series Irons at the driving range at Falcon’s Fire.
The momentum from the Writer Cup was carried into the PGA Trade Show in a number of ways. The new 300 Series Irons were made available throughout the week at Orlando’s Faldo Institute. H&K also continued with pro-active media relations, making all of TaylorMade-adidas Golf executives available to journalists throughout the week. A press conference for TaylorMade-adidas Golf President Mark King was set up during the show, where he addressed the state of the company and the golf industry, furthering our efforts to position him as not only the voice of TaylorMade, but as a pundit for the industry. The designers of TaylorMade and adidas products were designated as spokespeople for the brands and utilized effectively.
The Writer Cup provided an original platform that encompassed TaylorMade’s core ideals, being authentic, innovative and competitive. This golf tournament provided an authentic feel as well as a competitive edge to the day. Pitting U.S. and International journalists against each other in a country vs. country format gave TaylorMade the innovation it strives for.
Our product superiority was evident by the time journalists had arrived at the tournament. The success of a golf product is insured by professional tour dominance. TaylorMade was the talk of the professional tours because pros were winning with their products. What was left was having journalists try the product for themselves. To bridge our “for every player there is a club” philosophy, participants in the Writer Cup were custom fit for their clubs.
These products as well as the key executives were presented to members of the media in a personal and practical environment at the Writer Cup and 2001 PGA Trade Show. The tournament provided journalists an opportunity to use the clubs and socialize with key executives in a relaxed environment. This atmosphere positioned TaylorMade as a major player at the PGA Merchandise Show.
The positive buzz jumpstarted TaylorMade-adidas Golf’s 2001 revenues. An exceptional year was first signaled once TaylorMade-adidas Golf reported its first quarter revenues were up 21% over the previous year to $145 million. This significant revenue growth was primarily driven by TaylorMade’s new 300 Series Irons and woods introduced in January of 2001.
The TaylorMade 300 Series Irons launch, which started at the Inaugural Writer Cup and continued through the 2001 PGA Trade Show, created product awareness in golf trade and horizontal lifestyle media to consumers across the nation. Key hits and impressions included:
CNN/SI – 10,400,000
Fox Sports Network – 99,636
The Golf Channel – 14,500,000
Sports Illustrated – 3,212,595
USA Today – 1,852,592
Playboy – 3,211,393
Time – 1,920,000
Forbes – 884,201
Fortune – 853,267
Men’s Journal – 635,235
American Way – 352,623
Brandweek – 25,784
Investor’s Business Daily – 311,000
Golf Magazine – 1,469,078
Golfweek – 88,040
Golf World – 150,901
Golf World Business – 17,500
Golf Digest – 1,468,441
Golf Digest for Women – 265,000
Golf for Women – 349,805
Golf Product News – 19,678
Maximum Golf – 300,000
Travel & Leisure Golf – 312,776
Golf Today – 199,001
Robb Report – 111,616
Detroit News – 237,991
Chicago Tribune – 621,870
Orlando Sentinel – 260,367