Yale! Under Armour Moves Into "Aspirational Positioning"

Eben Novy-Williams' Bloomberg story on Under Armour paying Yale $16.5 million annually over 10 years to form a partnership suggests they are not letting up in any way, with the suggestion that golf continues to be a big part of their thinking.

From the story:

So what’s in it for Under Armour? The Yale brand, said Under Armour Vice President of Sports Marketing Ryan Kuehl, who cited the powerful alumni network, its global footprint and its elite student body.

"The number of young people around the world who aspire to attend Yale University is mind-boggling. That aspirational positioning made the deal worth it," Kuehl said.

Add that gem to the jargon HOF! Oh, the golf component:

Under Armour may be particularly interested in Yale’s golfers, who are likely to keep playing long after they graduate. Yale’s golf course was recently rated the best university course in the country by GolfWeek magazine; Under Armour sponsors Masters champion Jordan Spieth and is building its golf business.

Grey Goose Named Official Favorite Vodka Of PGA Tour VP's

I'll spare you the entire press release announcing Grey Goose as the official hooch of the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Web.com and assorted PGA Tour-operated facilities.

But there were two buried ledes...

As part of the marketing sponsorship, GREY GOOSE will be featured in all PGA TOUR Grills, a new premium restaurant concept focusing on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, which is launching during the spring of 2014 in select airports around the United States.

When I think PGA Tour, I think locally sourced ingredients at the airport.

And it appears platform has run its course as must-use press release jargon, as activate shoots to the front of herd. This is evident when one of the class acts in the VP ranks and a possible future commissioner is even using the "a" word...

“GREY GOOSE is a premier, internationally recognized brand that has a long-standing involvement with golf,” said Jay Monahan, Chief Marketing Officer of the PGA TOUR. “We are very pleased to partner with such a respected brand and look forward to working with the GREY GOOSE team to activate on the three Tours, as well as at our TPCs and special events.”

Feherty: "I hope to bring a lot of value to the brand with my insights and contacts."

You know it's a dark day when David Feherty is using MBA jargon...or whoever wrote the quote for him in this announcement that he's joining the Lifestyle Asset Group as an advisor.

"My wife, Anita, and I have known Rich Keith and his group for years," Feherty explained. "We've had the privilege of vacationing at two of the properties that are currently in the Lifestyle Asset Group portfolio -- Deer Valley, Utah and Casa Luz in Los Cabos -- and they are two of our favorite vacation homes that we've ever stayed in. With many resorts with golf in their plans, and many of their customers passionate about the game, I hope to bring a lot of value to the brand with my insights and contacts."

"Smith & Nephew does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in Smith & Nephew's expectation with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based."

The online story announcing Smith and Nephew as the sponsor in Memphis (I know, I know, you're thinking how did I not see them coming as a PGA Tour sponsor, what a fit!) did not include this hilarious press release footnote regarding the company and "Forward-Looking Statements." I'm sure it's boilerplate stuff for the $500 an hour set, but it's still entertaining!
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"I just checked this data yesterday"

Tim Finchem spoke to the boycotting scribes assembled to watch Tiger's statement. We have a new member of the Finchem lexicon:

Q.  I do want to ask you a financial question because he left open the possibility of sitting out the full year since he didn't say exactly when he would be back.  Have you started to think about the financial implications of that for the TOUR?  You've talked in general about that, but specifically ad rates and things like that if he would sit out all four major tournaments this year.

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Candidly there aren't any direct implications in the short‑term, and when I say short‑term, I mean in the next year or two.  I think that the real impactor on the PGA TOUR is a longer question as it relates to overall television ratings. 

Impactor!

As we've seen when he was out after his father's passing, when he was out with his injury in 2008, most of that season, the PGA TOUR ‑‑ as a matter of fact 2008 we had a record year financially both with respect to prize money and dollars to charity.  The PGA TOUR has not been negatively impacted in any significant way.

However, he does generate a significant increase in the overall interest in the sport, no question, and he does increase significantly the number of people that watch on television.  And that plays into our long‑term relationships with our television partners and the value of television rights.

Boy, that must have been painful to say.

Q.  Today he was obviously very insulated, but everyone said sooner or later that's not going to be the case when he does come back.  How difficult might it be for you to make sure that his escapades in the past are not the focus of the coverage and also to insulate him and I guess the TOUR?

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Well, let me answer that in two parts.  One part is in terms of the insulation.  There's been a lot of discussion about the format today and his not taking questions from the press, and I think I should remind everyone that ‑‑ and I just checked this data yesterday, it's kind of interesting,

Oh yes, the Commish was on ASAPSports all day counting Tiger press conference transcripts, not letting the VP of TigerWatch handling this vital task...

he's played in 249 professional golf tournaments; he's had over 1,100 press conferences, visits to the pressroom, scrums out on the golf course during that period of time; he has done the Oprah Winfrey Show; he's done 60 Minutes.  So he has had a major interface with the media.  And when he returns to the game, that interface will continue.  So I think the concerns in that area should just be put on hold until he comes back.

Why do I think interface will be defined as "a scrum attended by credentialed media as selected by the Tiger Writers Association of America, a group dedicated covering the life of Tiger Woods free of GWAA boycotts"?

As for the timing, Finchem is sticking to the rehab-supersedes-sponsor-needs story. Excuse me, "in patient therapy."

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Well, we have to do a lot of media discussion.  But not significantly.  Again, he's been out before.  I think the focus on the issues surrounding his leaving is a distraction to the game, there's no question about it.  Dealing with the fallout is a distraction.  There was no good time to do what's happened today without it distracting from what we're doing on the golf course in Mexico and certainly in the World Golf Championship event, the Accenture Match Play, this week.  So there are those things.

As for not taking questions today...

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  I think there's three pieces to that.  First of all, the format of not taking questions, everybody has an opinion on that, and we all want to see, particularly in this country, an individual in any circumstance be subjected to difficult scrutiny and questioning.

    And somebody asked me yesterday what we would have done.  We always try to make everybody happy.  That's what we do.  We want to cater to the media and make sure everybody is happy.

    But I think given the history of his involvement with the media, which is enormous, and the subject matter here, and where he is in dealing with his issues, and this being part obviously of the therapy that he's receiving, I didn't think it was inappropriate.  And candidly, I'll just be honest, personally, what else do we need to know at this point?

Well Tim, we've been told the tabloids and even the New York Times have been issuing false reports (that magically keeps turning out to be true), so shouldn't we address those false accusations?

The second part of your question is why here.  We were asked to provide our clubhouse as the site for this for several reasons:  One, he wanted to communicate with a number of individuals and organizations, including the PGA TOUR directly, so that was appropriate; secondly, he's a member of the PGA TOUR.  I can't imagine any player who's a member of our TOUR who asked for a press conference at any of our clubhouses around the country that we would say no to; and thirdly, I would just say that we had the logistical capability to assist to make this happen, and we were pleased to do it because we are dedicated all day long and want to be supportive to Tiger through this process.

Again, John Daly and Jim Thorpe, are you listening?

"We'll build enthusiasm and client and prospect interaction."

The PGA Tour convened a teleconference to announce the Fall Finish's new McGladrey Classic and asked Davis Love and Zach Johnson to join the Commish along with the CEO of the charmingly named RSM McGladrey. The highlights:

Tim Finchem:I think in terms of this new $4 million purse event, I'll just briefly say that we are very excited about it. We've been working on this concept for about, I don't know, a year and a half. It brings together obviously a quality title sponsor in RSM McGladrey led by a management team that really understands how to get value out of the business-to-business platform that's being generated here.

Haven't even hosted the event and they already get b-to-b platform generation? These guys are good.

By the way it doesn't need to be said again, but there's just a lot of value being created out of this partnership.

Davis Love...

We're excited to work with McGladrey and really excited to work even closer with Zach, our newest neighbor. He lives about four or five houses down from Mark, so Mark can go down and get advice from him any time. I think Zach wants to make a few comments, and I'm hopefully going to go snowboarding here pretty soon. I'm in the middle of nowhere in Canada. I apologize for the snowmobile that just went by a few minutes ago.

There's something you don't read every day in a transcript.

Now, questions from the Communist subversives.

Q. Commissioner, I have to break off the road here and ask, there's obviously a loophole in the new grooves restrictions. Is taking advantage of that loophole an insult to the honor of golf? Is something going to have to be changed on that?

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: By loophole, you're referring to the Ping i2 pre-1990 golf club?

Q. Yes.

COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: It is a bit of a loophole, but last year we looked carefully at this, and our experts did not view this distinction of any significance. So rather than part ways with the USGA in terms of what they would have to do at the U.S. Open, at that time we elected to stay the course. We just the other day reviewed the data again. We just don't see any competitive advantage, any material competitive advantage to a player by going back and getting a club that was made pre-1990.

But we'll continue to evaluate it. But at this point in time, no, we don't see any erosion of competitive balance because of that particular situation.

Okay, that puts that to rest.

Q. There's a suggestion that is being advocated by people in America, by sponsors and people associated with sponsors that perhaps the PGA TOUR should, and I'm quoting here, temporarily do away with conflicting event releases that grant permission to TOUR members to play overseas, and with some of your TOUR members playing in Abu Dhabi this week, I'm wondering whether you think that suggestion is likely to fly.
 
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I'm not much aware of a groundswell on that issue.

That's because you're not in La Quinta this week.

The conflicting event releases we feel we've had in place now for 15, 20 years seem to be fine. You have the odd occasion where it raises a question, but on balance, we do not have a very significant of players at all seeking conflicting event releases.

It's something we look at all the time. We look at it annually. We evaluate when we get a good number in any particular week. But at this time I don't see any change to the guidelines, but it's something we'll continue to keep under consideration.

Translation: it's somewhere on Tim's whiteboard to-do list between return Doug Barron's call and buy the new George Lopez live CD.

So that's the real world. We just had Tiger out for eight months in '08, and we had our all-time record charity year at $125 million. Everybody just needs to keep it in balance. We want our No. 1 player back. I think he's going to be huge when he comes back. But he's doing the right thing right now in dealing with his issues as he said he wanted to.

A lot of people read those words and thought Finchem meant he is praising Tiger for entering sex rehab. I'm not quite so sure.

And for today's MBAisms:

C.E. ANDREWS: Let me just comment, from our standpoint, this is all part of a much bigger -- it's a component of our overall marketing and branding direction in what we do, and we've been doing it for some time, and this is an evolution of that. I think for us, as Tim said, our research tells us that our clients, the sea-suite-type clients and prospects, that this is the best venue -- golf is the best sport for us to align with, and not just best sport, but if you really want to reach that audience, more of them participate in this in some fashion, either playing, watching, whatever, than any other sport or any other activity that we could find. So it matches up so well with the audiences that we're trying to reach, first of all.

I'm guessing that's C-suite-type clients. Though sea-suite has a nice ring to it too. But isn't it redundant to say a C-lister has a suite? I mean, isn't that a given? Or are there C-levelers and then C-suite-levelers?

Secondly, we have -- this is one component of a much bigger package of things as we mentioned. Of course Zach is a member of our Team McGladrey. We have three excellent golfers that we sponsor, and they're great ambassadors for us, so that works for us year-round.

We like the package of this particular tournament. We're going to be able to include throughout the year things that we'll do in our offices around the country, at other TPC courses and things. We'll build enthusiasm and client and prospect interaction.

That scribbling sound you heard in the background was the Commish writing down "client and prospect interaction."

WHEW! New LPGA Commish Unleashes All Of The Essential Business Jargon In First Press Release!

I was worried we might get some straight shooter but judging by his first press release quote, new LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan is going to pick up right where the Brand Lady left off, at least in the B-speak department. More on that momentarily.

Ron Sirak's story about the Oct. 28 announcement appeared first and he calls the naming a "bit of a surprise." Golfweek was first to post on Twitter, linking Beth Ann Baldry's story noting Whan's bio.

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"It's a way of cross generation to introduce current and future members of the LPGA to a very important part of the world."

LPGA Brand Lady Carolyn Bivens is interviewed by the "Toy Department" blog at the Baltimore Sun site. Some nice MBAisms for those of you collecting jargon at home.

Bivens: The fact that a sports league or association would own one of its own championships and be able to illustrate and display their best of class of their brand, to set the eligibilty criteria and own all the revenue streams for that event is huge. Yes, it is high risk and high reward, but the opportunities for that to make a difference from a brand standpoint ... over the next 50 years is very big.

And...

How many years into the future are you looking? You talk about a focus of five to seven years, but you also talk about 50 years. Where, as an executive, is your focal point?

Bivens: For the long term, dealing with the base of the platform, you look out 10 years. Most of the rest of the planning you do for five years out.

Isn't that redundant, the base of the platform? Or is there a layer I don't know about?

So your deal with J Golf, South Korean television, that's looking 10 years out, maybe more?

Bivens: The deal is a five-year deal and the big news about that ... is that it's multi-platform. It's not just cable television rights for South Korea. They own multiple magazines, they have a partnership deal with CNN, they have multiple digital platforms. It's a way of cross generation to introduce current and future members of the LPGA to a very important part of the world.

Cross generation! That's a new one for me. Anyone care to define?