Warning To Network Executives: Brand Lady To Come Knocking While You're On Vacation

...but at least she's presenting at the time of year when so many executives are vacationing in the Hamptons excited to hear pitches: August. Alan Blondin of The Sun News reports:

Bivens inherited cable contracts with ESPN and Golf Channel, and larger events are on ABC, NBC and CBS. Broadcast times vary greatly.

The tour will begin making presentations to network and cable stations in August. "The most important thing for the LPGA is to have a consistent television schedule," Bivens said. "It's very difficult for our fans to find where we are from week to week."

Since events in international locations aren't generally televised in the U.S., Bivens will try to group those to include dates when the LPGA would normally be dark, such as the weeks of the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship.

That should ensure they'll never make it on American airwaves too. 
The events are important for exposure and lucrative deals with international television stations in which the LPGA is paid for broadcast rights - similar to the PGA Tour TV agreements. Right now the LPGA buys time on ESPN and the three major networks and has to sell commercial spots itself. It has other agreements with the Golf Channel.

Bivens said for 2010 and beyond she'll either seek rights fees or develop an LPGA production company that would buy time and produce the programming itself. "If you have a brand that is still forming like the LPGA, being able to control your production is worth a lot of money," Bivens said.
Wait, the brand is still forming? Well, how is it a brand if it hasn't formed yet?
"Especially in terms of educating the audience as to the personalities behind the athletes. We're a society where fans develop behind personalities."

Ahh...translation: lots of fluff!

But I'm back on this brand formtion stuff. Branding experts, could you tell us how you know a forming brand officially becomes a brand? 

"The USGA is looking to expand its number of corporate partners to four"

Jon Show in the Sports Business Journal writes about Johnny Miller joining Lexus for several synergistic cross platforming upward product valuation and branding opportunities.

NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller will spend this week as a spokesman for Lexus, part of the company's activation of its new sponsorship with the U.S. Golf Association that includes rights to the U.S. Open.
There's that activation word again! 
Miller is scheduled to make appearances on behalf of Lexus through Sunday, including appearing via satellite on morning shows to promote a Lexus-sponsored survey asking golfers how they improve their game.

Good to know he's got his priorities straight. 

He also will appear in ads running in major golf publications and will be featured in TV spots running on NBC, which is televising the majority of the event.

Oh, but will he plug the product on the air as he did with Ford? Will he go easier on the USGA now that he's working with one of their sponsors?

This year also marks the first U.S. Open to have large-scale corporate backing. Lexus and American Express signed separate deals this winter with the USGA, which conducts the U.S. Open. Each is activating heavily in its first event.

Activating heavily! As opposed to merely activating.

And the story drops this little surprise.

The USGA is looking to expand its number of corporate partners to four, hoping to announce one in January 2008 and one for 2009. USGA CMO Barry Hyde said he expects efforts in that arena to ramp up this fall, after the organization¹s 13 national championships conclude.

Get Out Your MBASpeak Bingo Boards!

Actually, this Jon Show-Sports Business Journal interview with AmEx's Rick Lehrfield contains all sorts of new verbs, adverbs and nouns to add to the list.

Rich Lehrfeld is overseeing American Express first year under a new corporate partnership structure marketed by the USGA. He spoke recently with correspondent Jon Show about the allure of this week¹s U.S. Open. How much of your activation efforts are you pulling from your sponsorship of the U.S. Open of tennis?

Oh nice, activation efforts. And that was just setup!

LEHRFELD: We¹ve taken a good amount, between the fan and cardholder card-member experiences and the welcome pavilion. It¹s not a true takeoff but a lot of the engagement for the U.S. Open tennis we tried to use [for] the golf event.

Hmmm, anyone care to tell me what a true takeoff is vs. an engagement?

What attracted you to the USGA?

LEHRFELD: Who they are and what they represent in the game of golf. It¹s an organization that runs 365 days a year with multiple events. There are a lot of different platforms that we can build on with them. The USGA really wants to keep the event as special and pure as possible. We¹ve worked with them on where we should and shouldn¹t be branding, how we can deliver benefits and access.

Platforms and branding. Yawn. And I don't know about the pure part if they are taking on sponsors.

How do you measure success in year one?

LEHRFELD: First is trying to develop impactful programs and working to develop a comfort level with the USGA. That¹s hard to measure. Engaging consumers and building programs and experiences through content or on-site. Delivering real value through a brand perspective, which we determine through research and response. And then, the business perspective.

Impactful value through a brand perspective. Amen brother.

Any plans to expand your interests in golf?

LEHRFELD: We¹re definitely looking to grow our efforts in golf. Maybe in event sponsorship, maybe not.

Wow, stop teasing us like this!

Should anything be done to improve the World Golf Championships events, one of which is title-sponsored by AmEx?

LEHRFELD: They¹ve done a good job with the players. I think they probably have to do a little more rotation and make it more global, which is tough with the players¹ schedules. They¹re faced with a big challenge in trying to make it a global property.

Wow, that's a fancy way of saying the WGC's aren't working!

"When a smart person...sees what we've done"

I'm a bit behind on my reading, but yesterday's beach weather afforded the chance to finally power flip through the Golf Digest Hot List as a seal frollicked before me. I managed to weed through the Hot List spread in 7 seconds, but before I got to Belt and Gulag's must flip-through project, I did enjoy the laughs from Jaime Diaz's Golf Digest piece on the FedEx Cup.

First, here's a solid entry for the corporatespeak file...

The shortened schedule, says Sean McManus, president of CBS Sports and CBS News, "takes a fair amount of inventory out of the network marketplace, which is healthy for CBS and NBC.

Healthy for ABC too, apparently.

And this was nice from the Commissioner:

"When a smart person--whether it's a player, a sponsor, a television executive or a fan--sees what we've done," Finchem says, "they nod their head and say, ‘This makes sense.'"

Translation: only dumb people fail to get the FedEx Cup.

And less funny but quite astute was this from Larry Thiel, the International's director who was talking about the FedEx Cup overshadowing individual tournament sponsors.

Through just a few weeks, he's looking prophetic:

"The other thing is that when we sell a sponsor, that sponsor is to receive all the branding and all the positive reinforcement of being a part of the event," Thiel says. "I think that when it's all said and done, all we're ever going to hear about is the FedEx Cup. So I would be fearful if I were one of those three tournaments that my title sponsor would get lost in the shuffle."

"It's a very rare to find a cross- promotional partner that shares so many brand attributes"

It's official, with this latest bit, I'm starting a Corporatespeak category. I just can't keep up with the latest lingo and what better way to relive the doublespeak than with a its very own journal topic listing.

Greg Hardwig in the Naples News shares these gems from Ed Kiernan of Peter Jacobsen Productions, talking about engineering the USGA-Lexus partnership.

"It's a very rare to find a cross- promotional partner that shares so many brand attributes, but in this instance we have found it," said Ed Kiernan, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Peter Jacobsen Productions.

"The key factors to fostering this relationship stem from Lexus' ongoing commitment to the game and their unwavering support of golf at all levels. The four USGA championships provide Lexus with a one-of-a-kind marketing platform to reach multiple stakeholders through tailored events, select ticket and hospitality opportunities, dealer engagement, co-branded promotions and critically important premium experiences."

Here's the buried money quote on the real reason behind the USGA partnership...

"It's a sizable deal. It's a big deal," Kiernan said. "They bought a sizable NBC package as well. ...


"It's really going to mirror what they've done with the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and the U.S. Tennis Open."

And we know what great shape the USTA is in. Love the corporate banners all over the place too. Hope we get the same interaction opportunities at golf's U.S. Open.

Last month, American Express became the USGA's first corporate partner in its 112-year history.

One of the byproducts of that deal was that American Express card members could purchase sold-out Trophy Club tickets to the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

"We are pleased to play a part in this historic union between golf's governing body and the top-selling luxury nameplate in the U.S.," Kiernan said.

Bet you are jotting that one down right now. Top selling luxury nameplate...priceless.