Gulbis Seeks To Shed Image As Hot, Athletic Babe

natalie_gulbis.jpgThanks to reader Jeff for this Jeffrey Kelley story on the planned "rebranding" of Natalie Gulbis.

I know I say this a lot, but really, you couldn't make this up...

Natalie Gulbis, the 24-year-old golfer best known -- at least until recently -- for her good looks, will be rebranded by Circle S Studios.

A 2008 calendar and day planner designed by the marketing shop in Old Manchester follows Gulbis' first LPGA Tour title at the Evian Masters in France in June.

The blonde Gulbis has done calendars since 2004. Pictures in her 2005 calendar -- in swimsuits or dresses -- were deemed provocative by the U.S. Golf Association. Though it was criticized for overreacting, the USGA banned the calendar's sale at the U.S. Women's Open.

The 2008 calendar, by contrast, is all golf and pushes Gulbis' game face.

"With the original stuff, she was in a beautiful bathing suit, tights and things and that certainly got the attention of a lot of people," said Circle S President and Managing Partner Susan Hogg. "But we're trying to scoot it more to who she is and where she wants to take [her career and name] . . . and being a role model, specifically to young girls and women in general. That's the brand we're trying to portray."

What a great idea. This is beautiful:

Hogg described the company's work as "a refinement of a truer image of who she is. Sometimes the media can start to control your brand, and we're trying to take control of the brand."

Just put some glasses on her, feature calendar photos of her signing her scorecard or taking a lesson from Butch, and I guarantee you'll have control of the brand as it heads right down the toilet. 

Still, it's not as though the tall, blue-green-eyed Gulbis will leave the minds of the males who know her. "They're still beauty shots. She's an attractive, wonderful athlete," Hogg said.

Whew, I was worried.

Ah, more #@&%!#$:

"The calendar is just one element of how you get perceived in the marketplace, so we tried to step back and look holistically in terms of how is she being positioned" in public, Hogg said.

That's why they get the big bucks. Helps pay for the therapy when they decide to look back at their life accomplishments and see quotes printed like that.

The firm, which occupies a converted box warehouse, is putting together "a series of recommendations, a strategic marketing plan" to Gulbis' sports-marketing firm, Octagon, Hogg said. Circle S is considering new merchandise and interactive features on the Web to help cater to the female teenage demographic -- conveying an all-American girl who eats well, exercises and works hard. "That's how you rise to the top, instead of the sex symbol, which is how it started out," Hogg said.

And it isn't doing so bad is she?