Sponsorship Mismatch

SBJ reports that LPGA sponsor Michelob Ultra is running a promotion to nominate the ultimate 19th hole bar via an essay submission. It’s a small story, likely swept under the rug, yet it exemplifies why sponsors rarely receive good ROI on sports, and leave me wondering about the brand marketing team at the LPGA.

Obviously, the sport is struggling, so sponsorship revenue is sponsorship revenue wherever it comes from. However, let’s take a look at this promotion, this brand, and the target market. First, not to sound biased, but I think the 19th hole concept appeals more to men than to women. Women have other interests, and view both the bar and activities after playing a round different then men, which this promotion fails to recognize.

More importantly, the LPGA player demographic has become more international and younger. As such, the sport has tried to target fans in those demographics, particularly younger women and children to help grow the sport. A 19th hole promotion is the antithesis of what the sport is trying to do, and who they want to attract.

The LPGA still needs to fill the beer category though. They have the right brand in there – Michelob Ultra – they should work on activating as a lifestyle, the low carb, low calorie beer, the reason why many women likely choose Ultra and a marketing concept that has proven successful with other products.

In the end, the promotion makes little sense for either party. It does not align with the branding message the LPGA is trying to deliver, and Michelob is likely running a promotion for a customer that is a small segment of the women’s golf market.

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