Darryl Slater looks at the LPGA's nine "it girl" brand icons, as well as the pros and cons of the brand initiatives set up by Carolyn Bivens.
An "it girl" needs the charisma, the marketability and, like it or not, the good looks to win over American sports fans outside the tour's niche.Well, looks and personality isn't bad! Oh, you mean...gotcha.
"It's basically having the total package of skills, looks and personality," said Mark Porter, senior project manager at Performance Research, a sports sponsorship consulting company. "Because you need all three. If you have just two of the components, it doesn't really work."
Bivens has done plenty of selling since taking over for Ty Votaw. She sent six players - including Gulbis, Creamer and Kerr - to Oscar parties. Oscar presenters and winners were given a free private golf lesson with an LPGA player. Bivens also recruited brand manager Wendy Newman, who runs Person-Centered Branding in Beverly Hills, Calif. The LPGA will foot part of the bill if a player hires Newman - an unprecedented move for a major sports league.Shocking that an outfit like "Person-Centered Branding" is located in Beverly Hills. I wonder what Wendy could do for John Daly?
Newman has attended two tournaments and worked with groups of 20 players, helping them define their interests so they can find endorsements and promotional opportunities that fit them.And this is priceless...
"We really look at absolutely everything personally and professionally, then create their life around that," said Newman, who added that she has about 20 LPGA clients, whom she refused to name for privacy reasons.
She also works with LPGA image consultant Jan Butterfield on players' fashion. That role prompted concerns, and at one panel discussion, Newman recalled a player asking her, "Are you gonna tell us what to wear?"
No, Newman said. Just offer advice if asked.
One younger player told Newman she liked dancing, so Newman has mulled the idea of trying to get her into a music video. "I'm there really as their coach, much like their swing coach," Newman said. As a whole, the tour's image has recently turned sexier, an about-face from previous marketing strategies.Naturally, not everyone is wild about this youth movement.
"I want them all to go to college," LPGA veteran Meg Mallon said. "I'm big on: The later they can come out here, the better. It's not about four or five hours of being able to play golf. This is a complete lifestyle out here that you have to be ready for."
Yes, especially if the l...oh I won't go there.