McIlroy and Spieth hone in on Tiger’s spot | Repucom

Golf Social Media MastersStamford, Conn. 08.04.15 – Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth lead the charge as golf’s next dominant marketing forces as the first of the four Majors, the Masters, tees off tomorrow.

As Tiger Woods’ reign as one of golf’s most valuable marketing assets is being challenged, findings from Repucom show that the new breed of exciting and edgier players are starting to attract new, younger audiences.

The Masters continues to be golf’s leading tournament in attracting younger viewers, with early round action outperforming the U.S. Open and The Open Championship by significant margins. This suggests the perennial Augusta National event is a demographically powerful platform for fans and sponsors.

Of the players under 30, Rory McIlroy leads the pack. Over a third of people know of the Northern Irishman globally; where over 71% say they like the player. In the US, that figure is even greater, where over 45% of people know of the player, 85% say they find him appealing.

Recently named as the new face of EA Sports’ latest PGA TOUR game, replacing the longstanding Tiger Woods whose drop in marketability is mirrored in his on-course performances, 82% of the US population that know of McIlroy also see him as an aspirational figure, a figure echoed in his native UK, where over 71% of people know of him.

Jon Stainer, Managing Director at Repucom UK, on battle of the brands at the Masters 2015

However, out of the 85% of people who watch golf surveyed in the US who said that they would probably tune into this year’s Masters at some point, 12% said they didn’t plan to if Tiger wasn’t playing, showing both the impact the player still holds and the higher number of fringe audience members a marketable player can bring to the game.

Paul Smith, CEO and Founder of Repucom, said: “This exciting generational shift in the sport, combined with the changing landscape in golf’s marketability means the Majors will, this year, play an even greater role in shaping who brands align themselves to.

“There are more players in the mix vying for that number one spot and many of them are attracting younger audiences which remain the lifeblood of any sports fan base. Interestingly, the appeal of edgier personalities are allowing brands not synonymous with golf to breakthrough, largely in apparel. Rickie Fowler’s partnership with Puma and Jordan Spieth’s recent 10 year deal with Under Armour provide good examples of this.

“Ultimately for sponsoring brands, it’s all about getting that sponsorship fit right. Aligning to a player who has the right mix of appeal, credibility and familiarity whilst still speaking to the brands values and customers is vital.”

Although known by just under 20% of the US population, Jordan Spieth is someone who is attracting the 18-34 year old population. Research conducted by Repucom ahead of the 2015 tournament shows that the proportion of those looking forward to watching Phil Mickelson play are less likely to be ‘Millennials’ whereas this age group is the biggest when it comes to those looking forward to watching Jordan Spieth play.

With annual sponsorship deals worth upwards of $40m per year, Rory McIlroy however still remains the front runner in terms of his overall marketability, where in the US, he is recognised by more people than Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth combined (45%).

Importantly, when McIlroy speaks, he is listened to. Over 69% of people that know of McIlroy say that they listen to what he has to say when he appears in media. Having a high level of influence is critical for brands who are looking to align themselves to endorsers who can speak and engage with fans as well as win Majors.

Below is an example of one of Nike’s most recent ads in the run up to the 2015 Masters tournament, demonstrating the changing face of the sport