Players’ period attire marks Zurich’s 100 yearsPublished April 23, 2012
Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.
The NFL and NBA have their own throwback uniforms, so why shouldn’t golf.
Zurich, which is commemorating its 100th year of business in the United States with a yearlong marketing campaign, is the title sponsor of this week’s PGA Tour event in New Orleans. As part of its centennial — and as a way to generate some unique publicity for its brand — it is sponsoring an exhibition this week with its seven golf ambassadors playing in 1912 attire. They’ll also play with hickory-shafted clubs and golf balls from that period on holes that are shortened to reflect the era.
|Rickie Fowler will take part in Zurich’s 100-year Challenge while wearing the Puma ensemble (right) meant to depict 1912 attire.
Zurich’s six other golf ambassadors — Graeme McDowell, Ben Crane, Luke Donald, Keegan Bradley, Camilo Villegas and Justin Rose — will play in period clothing as well, each designed by the player’s clothing sponsor. For example, Donald is with Polo, Crane is with Hugo Boss, and Bradley is with Tommy Hilfiger — brands that also have gotten in on the throwback wear.
Zurich has worked with its marketing agency for golf, CAA Sports, on the planning.
“We’ve considered a wide range of activities for our people and our customers to celebrate the 100-year anniversary, and each time we’d come back to how we tie this into golf,” said Dick Kearns, senior adviser for Zurich’s global golf sponsorships. “We wanted to replicate what golf must have been like 100 years ago with players today. So far, it sounds like the players are more worried about who wins ‘best dressed.’”
Zurich, the Swiss-based property and casualty insurance giant for commercial businesses, began running print and TV ads earlier this year to honor its 100th year in the U.S. It has advertised heavily in the endemic publications like Golf Magazine, Golf Digest and Golf World, while three of their ambassadors appeared on Golf Channel's “Morning Drive.”
What happens with the content captured from the 100-Year Challenge exhibition hasn’t been determined yet, but it will likely find its way into future creative, Kearns said, while also being used on Zurich’s website and being integrated into Golf Channel coverage this week.
Zurich also will have a heavy hospitality play in New Orleans this week with close to 700 executives and customers coming to town. The company has 45 spots in the Wednesday pro-am and those who come to town early will see the 100-Year Challenge.
Zurich brings in guests in waves, so all 700 are not there at the same time.
“This is one of those opportune times to get your message out — who you are, what makes you different,” said Kearns, the company’s former chief administrative officer who retired in 2010 and moved over to golf as an adviser.
CAA Sports’ Billy McGriff, who works with Zurich on strategy and activation, said Zurich has one of golf’s most ambitious ambassador programs with seven players, each of whom gives the global company coverage in different parts of the world.
“As a global company, we need to make sure this big investment in golf works in other areas of the world,” McGriff said. “Through our ambassador program, we’ve been able to stage events in Ireland, Spain, Argentina, Hong Kong, and business decision-makers get to know the golfers. It’s an important tie to the tournament in New Orleans.”
All of the company’s activation spending around this week’s event is above the $7 million to $8 million a year Zurich spends on its title sponsorship. Zurich has title sponsored the New Orleans event since 2005, and its current deal runs through 2014.