Musings on Marketing from The Masters

This week my childhood dream came true and I got to walk the sacred grounds of Augusta National. Don’t get me wrong, the place was magnificent, but what really struck me was the way marketers leveraged an event that has some of the most restricted access to fans to get their message out in a truly organic and genuine way. From the second you walk onto the grounds there is not a corporate logo in sight. Everything is “Masters green” and white. You drink “lemon lime” relying on your expert taste buds to decipher if it is Sprite or 7UP. Only three companies are granted exclusive rights to advertise on the TV broadcast and the audience is known to encompass many C-Suite decision makers. You see, during Masters week, it’s not about breaking through the clutter; it’s about being genuine enough to be a part of the experience. So what did I learn besides the fact
that I need to get back on the greens? A lot as it turns out.

Lesson 1: Ambush Marketing Works

When you can’t get in the ropes, great marketers, like great golfers find a memorable way around the obstacle. Bridgestone really stood out to me. The company commissioned hotels to brand the room keys for the week to promote tickets to the Bridgestone Invitational. A novel, nifty way to get the message into consumers’ hands. Additionally, to launch their effort to target the younger generation of golfers, IZOD established a social hub a block away from the entrance to the Masters to entice golf fans to venture inside to see what was going on inside. It was impossible to enter the grounds a not wonder what IZOD was up to!

Lesson 2: Know Your Audience

For those who watched the live Masters broadcasts over the past four days, you would have noticed a lack of variety in the advertising. The three legacy TV sponsors: IBM, ExxonMobil and AT&T, are the only companies that can place advertising during the official telecast. Yet, the messaging of each ad ought to be taken note of as well: these ads did not tell us about the latest and great smartphones and gas-saving tricks. They emphasized technological advancement and how the companies were working to solve the world’s problems. This is because The Masters is known to have one of the highest concentrations of decision makers in its broadcast audience. As such, these veteran Masters marketers know that the CMO on the other side does not want to know about what new Android is at AT&T for $99.99, he/she cares about how information systems and data are doing to help him/her make better decisions. When you have an elusive audience, communicate to them about what they care about.

Lesson 3: Create a Genuine Experience

Some people may not get what the Masters is about; much in the same way that I don’t get what the Samsung Galaxy SIII is all about. But, ultimately The Masters provides a one-of-kind experience for golf fans that goes beyond the superficial and actually connects with them. It’s a lesson that all brands can learn from. By creating a unique, special experience for customers that does more than just solve a need, companies can create a loyal following of advocates who not only favor the brand but are sure to tell all they know just how special it is. We all dislike when people are not genuine to us, the same applied to brands.

Perhaps my last Musing from The Masters would have to be on IBM’s TV campaign this weekend. All of the ads emphasized how the company is using big data, analytics and social to help businesses arrive at better decisions and “build a smarter planet.” It was a message that was geared from those in the C-Suite but has tremendous value for IMC. After all, “on a smarter planet, collecting data is one thing. Knowing what to do with it, now that’s an entirely new game.” (IBM “Ben Hogan” ad – air date 4.14.13)

About Martine de Gannes 1 Article
Martine de Gannes is a student in the Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. She can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Martine,
    Very glad I found this site. Like what you guys are doing and your Masters musings were interesting to read. I too have been interested in IBM’s Big Data push because I wrote an article in early March about Big Data being used more in Sports to produce automated original content for sports fans all in real-time.

    Keep up the good work!

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