When UPS forged its relationship with the newly-deigned world’s No. 1 golfer last year, Lee Westwood was ranked No. 13. The global courier company signed Westwood because of his globetrotting tour schedule and his strong presence on the European Tour, according to Sports Business Journal’s Michael Smith. Now that Westwood has ascended to king of the world golf rankings, UPS is reconsidering its golf strategy because it’s association with Westy has brought the company closer than ever to industry domination on Planet Earth — or perhaps more globally visible than its primary competitor FedEx (albeit not quite as loud as $10 million), which obviously, is heavily invested in the US PGA Tour.
“We weren’t looking for the No. 1 golfer in the world when we did the deal,” said Ron Rogowski, vice president of sponsorships and events at UPS and the executive who has engineered the company’s play on the European Tour. “We set out to identify golfers who have a global appeal, but for him to have this kind of a season and rise to No. 1 in the world, that’s been a very pleasant surprise.”
Now UPS finds itself facing a new set of questions with Westwood, such as whether the company should begin using him in its advertising.
“With Lee No. 1 in the world, that’s something we’ve got to talk to advertising about,” Rogowski said. “The additional exposure we’ve already received has been phenomenal.”
In other words, UPS is beyond excited that its investment in Westwood is yielding a much greater return than expected. And the company probably got a good deal since it signed a deal with the No. 13 golfer in the world. (The lesson here is get ‘em early! Even though signing Westwood was a smart choice, they’re likely getting way more for their buck.)
Though Westwood calls the European Tour his home, he still plays all the big events on the US PGA Tour, which has given UPS a more visible branding presence in the US. Since its chief competitor FedEx has a hefty interest in the US golf market, UPS never intended to try and compete domestically.
“The intent was never to go head-to-head with what our competitor was doing,” Rogowski said. “We just put the best plan together that met our objectives. For us, it’s about bringing the right assets together and crafting it to fit your needs. … This really has turned into a global format that offers us a lot of flexibility. Anything we get, in terms of branding, in the U.S., that’s a bonus.”
Given that Westwood has been the most consistent player at the majors in the past two years (all those second and third place finishes), UPS is getting lots of added value with the world’s No. 1. And it didn’t cost the company $10+ million a year.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)