You'll be shocked to know that D Magazine is only on my reading list if I'm stuck in the Dallas airport...for about a week. So it was with relief that Kyle Porter at CBSSports.com caught Art Stricklin's in-depth look at the team behind Jordan Spieth's brand-building efforts.
As with any story that goes into depth about behind-the-scenes efforts to market and profit from a star's image, some of the details shared are eye-opening. In this case, considering how tight-lipped Team Spieth has been, the frankness is even more fascinating even if the B-speak is a little 2004ish.
But come on, there wasn't one mention of Jordan's "scalability," just agent Jay Danzi mentioning: “I’m the brand steward, the brand manager. It’s something I worry about every day.”
Jay, there's no worrying in brand stewardship! Or maybe there is...
Spieth currently reps Coca-Cola, AT&T, Under Armour, Titleist and Rolex. A who's who within golf marketing circles. It's why he reportedly makes $30 million a year off the course. His dad Shawn, who is part of Team Spieth, said the numbers are a little staggering sometimes.
“Most contracts we sign have bonuses and incentives, which roll up and roll down and can adjust the final total," Shawn told D Magazine. "It does make you shake your head some of the time with the money."
Dad's kind of bragging about the money! Calling the brand steward!
And then there's the Tiger Woods angle. Jordan is the one who overtook him on the highest-paid golfer list. He's the one who took the mantle of getting that AT&T logo on his bag after the company dropped Woods.
“I think Jordan probably looked at Tiger and said, ‘I want some of that on the corporate level,' said Matt Delzell who works for a Dallas PR agency. "But he also looks at him now and sees what he's not able to do because of what happened in his life."
If there was any question about who signed off on Jordan's worldwide expedition at the start of a busy year that left the client tired, Stricklin's story seems to make clear that Jordan was a big part of the decision-making.
The “big three” of Team Spieth, as they’re known, are agent Danzi; Spieth’s father; and Spieth himself, who’s said to give the final yes or no on all endorsement deals. “I’m very involved. We’re all involved together,” Jordan Spieth says of the team’s business approach. “Jay is the expert. He’s gone through hundreds of [contract negotiations]. But every one is different, and so Jay learns a lot from me, too, and what I want and how we want to structure things. What can we do with our partners? I’m involved in every detail.
“I’m learning every day different aspects of what it takes to build my brand and, while I rely heavily on my team, the overall decisions are mine,” Spieth adds. “I know how many days and how many appearances we have. I know what we’re going to try and do together, the different activations, and I’m very informed with the contracts. Since day one, my team has kept our approach to business decisions the same. Everything needs to make sense to our brand strategy.”
Activations. I didn't have Jordan finishing off my B-speak bingo board, but a win's a win.
Now, I'm certain this was a reference to the high school, not Jesuits in general. It's a Dallas thing. Still...I'm picturing the brand steward screwing open a bottle of Ibuprofen when he reads this bragging...
Next, Spieth's team used its local connections to hook up with AT&T. “It was a Dallas company connected with a Dallas athlete. It made natural sense and it was something we wanted to do,” says Shawn Spieth. “They are one of the largest-spending companies on golf. We had a lot of family and Jesuit connections on the C-level to make it happen.”
But hey, at least he's insured, in case you were wondering...
Injuries, on the other hand, can hamper any golfer. “Do we consider a career-ending injury?” Shawn Spieth asks. “We don’t spend a lot of time at that, because that can take up all of your time and money. But we do have supplemental insurance. We are prepared.”