Buick Open Worth Saving (Sponsors Needed)

Did you see today’s Final Round of the Buick Open, likely the last of the annual event in the Detroit area? Outside of Happy Gilmore, never have I seen a golf crowd (gallery for those golf insiders) so into the tournament, having so much fun, yet still respecting the game. Not Bethpage, not the Ryder Cup, nowhere ever. Tiger charging down the stretch with the lead helps any tournament, but this was different. Even through the TV, you can feel the passion of the fans – for the golf, for car industry, and the pride in where they live. Chants of “Let’s Go Buick” emanated from the stands.

After watching this unfold, how could the PGA let this tournament die? Maybe it would have been different if it wasn’t going to be the last year, or if Tiger didn’t play and carry the lead on Sunday, but they deserve another shot.

For the right brand, it’s a great sponsorship opportunity. Seeing the passion the fans showed for Buick today, another brand with the right fit could generate tremendous positive recognition and yield a measurable return by partnering with Buick to sponsor next year’s tournament. GM is significantly cutting back its sports sponsorship commitments, though not to $0. If they were to kick in a percent (say 10-25) of the title sponsor fee, another brand could pay the rest, and they would share tournament naming rights (i.e. Buick Open presented by Brand or The Buick-Brand Open). Tournament officials could manage expenses by minimizing big hospitality expenditures and working with the tour on purse money. Maybe not the most extravagant tournament, however positive PR for the tour, for players, and for the partner brand.

After seeing the passion in that crowd today, if the right brand steps in, that entire region would view them as saviors. It’s a good way to generate brand awareness or shed positive light on a troubled brand. The Communications teams can publicize how the company stepped in to help Buick, how committed they are to the area, and engage in community activities to solidify that. At that point, the brand has a highly engaged audience in the Detroit area, plus a compassionate national audience, they could deliver product messages and position the brand. The end game is sales, and when you bring a brand to the forefront in such a positive manner, customers will listen to the message and are more likely to follow through with purchases.

Without seeing TV ratings, attendance figures, and other measurement data, or understanding corporate performance and company strategy’s for that region, it’s hard to pinpoint potential partners and target price tags. It could be as straight forward as a retailer, like Walmart, on solid standing and marketable to people looking to cut expenses, or a big name QSR could find an angle to work with Buick or use the time to intro a new product.

Without more analysis, I don’t know the best answer. But I do know that after watching that crowd, any brand that partners with Buick and rescues this tournament will be embraced with open arms. Do any of these media exposure valuation companies put a dollar value on having an entire gallery chanting your brands name on national television with Tiger Woods walking on the screen?