Saxbys, Furyk link in to U.S. Open promotions

Posted: June 14, 2013

Corporations that set up hospitality tents at the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club to entertain clients, employees, and prospects are paying at least $100,000 for the privilege - sometimes up to $300,000, including passes, bars and bartenders, and other perks.

The recession that slowed all kinds of corporate advertising a few years ago forced companies to be more discriminating about the public events they sponsored. But corporate promotions tied to professional golf, targeted to appeal to business decision-makers, have grown rapidly over the last 10 years, says Bryce Townsend, chief executive at GroupM Entertainment Sports Partnerships or New York.

GroupM advises software-maker SAP AG and other big companies that use pro sports to advertise their brands and attract business.

Does this work? Companies have become careful in measuring the new business that such events bring in, short term and over time, so they can compare the costs with benefits and alternatives, Townsend said.

But how can you afford to pay your way into major golf promotions if you're not a big carmaker or electronics marketer, or a multinational like software-maker SAP, which, with $20 billion in yearly sales, can afford to pay two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els a retainer and bonuses to help boost the brand?

You come up with a golf-themed promotion that is all your own. Philadelphia-based Saxbys Coffee is offering a fancy-coffee promotion tied to the fortunes of a local favorite, PGA golfer Jim Furyk, a former resident of West Chester.

Saxbys will use Furyk's 18-hole scores at Merion, converted to pennies, as the price for two latte-based drinks developed by the firm's baristas and served at the chain's Haverford store, near the course where the tournament is being played.

There's no contract, just the use of Furyk's widely posted previous-day scores as the price for the next-day drinks. Furyk hosted a previous Saxbys golf event - last year's Exelon Invitational at the Ace Club golf course in Lafayette Hill.

"We're adopting him," said Saxbys founder and chief executive, Nick Bayer. There's no agreement to pay for a tent or full-fledged sponsorship - "it's price-prohibitive," Bayer said. "The cost-benefit analysis didn't work."

But with the U.S. Open here, and crowds of golf fans crowding the Haverford store, Bayer said, "It would be foolish of us to not do something creative."


Contact Joseph N. DiStefano

at 215-854-5194 or JoeD@phillynews.com, or

follow on Twitter @PhillyJoeD.

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