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Why Mastercard Holders Will Soon Get Unique Benefits From Topgolf

The credit card company has signed on as the official payment system of the fast-rising sports entertainment company.

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For anyone that loves golf, sports, or just fun nights out with friends, Topgolf has become a perfect destination. With 49 locations worldwide, Topgolf had an average of 35,000 daily visitors — about 13 million over 12 months — in 2017. The greatest aspect of the enhanced driving range destinations is that even non-golfers can, and do, enjoy Topgolf.

With the company still expanding, its visitation numbers are only going to increase. This made a partnership with the brand for Mastercard all the more attractive.

“Mastercard has provided cardholders with ways to attend, watch and play golf that has delighted the golf community for over 20 years,” said Cheryl Guerin, executive vice president of North America marketing and communications at Mastercard. “We plan to build upon that history by reaching new audiences and fusing them with our own, such as the millions of Topgolf fans who are comprised of avid golfers and beginners alike.”

SEE MORE: Giants Turn to Topgolf to Drive Fans to Ballpark During Offseason

Very soon, patrons who are Mastercard cardholders will have even more incentive to head out to their nearest Topgolf location.

The two brands announced a partnership earlier last week that will give Mastercard cardholders preferred access to reservation times, as well as discounted pricing at most Topgolf venues in the United States.

The partnership also allows Mastercard customers access to purchase tickets to Topgolf events such as concerts and coaching clinics before they go on sale for the general public. Cardholders will also have the opportunity to enter to win other Topgolf-related prizes throughout the year, like lessons from Topgolf ambassadors such as Annika Sorenstam.

So, why does this new partnership make sense, particularly for Mastercard’s increasingly mobile customer base? 

“Consumers today are more digital and more connected than ever before, which is impacting the role sports play in their lives,” Guerin explained. “Keeping pace with this evolution means unlocking unique access to golf with every dip or tap of a Mastercard. Topgolf’s ability to blend the sport, technology, and entertainment into an experience that brings golfers and non-golfers together is exactly the kind of excitement we want cardholders to look forward to receiving from our brand.”

SEE MORE: LPGA Helps Golfers Build Brand Muscle on Tour

For two brands that want to offer their customers “priceless” experiences, this partnership offers plenty of mutual benefits.

“Mastercard is known for making priceless moments possible for their cardholders, and Topgolf guests and associates create those experiences every day,” said Rodney Ferrell, Topgolf’s vice president of global partnerships. “Partnering with Mastercard aligns our shared purpose of connecting people in meaningful ways.”

Guerin added: “Mastercard is constantly seeking opportunities to give cardholders more ways to attend, watch, play and experience golf and recreation. We look forward to partnering with Topgolf to unlock unique access and bring golf fans closer to their passion for the game.”

To celebrate the beginning of the partnership, Topgolf and Mastercard surprised a handful of cardholders at the Las Vegas location with a lesson from Sorenstam herself.

Sorenstam also did a takeover for Topgolf’s Instagram story, which highlighted the day and gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at what will soon be possible for Mastercard customers.

If you’re a Mastercard cardholder and still wondering what all the fuss is about with Topgolf, make an early New Year’s resolution to give it a go. With its expansion gaining more and more traction, a Topgolf could be in your city before you know it.

For Mastercard, which has been on Forbes’ list of the world’s most innovative companies each of the last three years, look for the company to pursue more partnerships with more experienced-based sports properties.

“Mastercard is constantly seeking new ways to connect consumers to their passion for sports,” Guerin said. “We continue to focus on creating high energy experiences that attract millennial and centennials who will grow with our brand. Partnering with Topgolf is a fantastic example of bringing a fresh twist to a favorite pastime that will excite current fans and the next generation at the same time.”

Joe is currently a freelance marketing professional, writer, and podcaster. His work can also be found on the SB Nation network. Joe earned his bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Louisville in 2014 and a master's degree in sport administration from Seattle University in 2017. He can be reached via email at joe@frntofficesport.com.

Sponsorship

CohnReznick Sponsors a Dive Inside the Business of Baseball

Accounting firm CohnReznick shows the business of baseball in two video series with MLB, “Business of Baseball” and “Front Office Focus.”

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Photo Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

Accounting firm CohnReznick is taking an authentic approach to its MLB sponsorship. Through a video series called Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus, CohnReznick lends its name to an inside look at professional baseball. The series is produced by MLB Network, where it airs, along with, MLB.com and CohnReznick’s website.

MLB confirmed CohnReznick as a sponsor of the video series to FOS. The two parties collaborate on ideas, but MLB declined to speak on the sponsorship further.

“Our team really wanted something that was authentic, not just a way to slap our name onto something, but to own something,” says Frank Longobardi, CEO, CohnReznick. “We are able to align some of our core values with what’s being talked about in Business of Baseball and Front Office Focus. That makes us feel good, as we felt we could drive content and value with our strengths.”

READ MORE: MLB Flies Under the Radar With Sponsor Patches

While service-oriented companies have sponsored sports for decades, it’s becoming more common for non-consumer brands to find ways to cut through the clutter,” says Joe Favorito, a sports marketing and communications consultant.

“These companies are tying to something that resonates,” Favorito says. “Consumers have millions of choices. If it comes down to personal choice, they remember the company for who their spokesperson is or the story being told.”

The Business of Baseball series launched during December’s Baseball Winter Meetings, where CohnReznick was the presenting sponsor of the meetings for MLB Network. Over the course of the video sponsorship, there will be approximately six Business of Baseball videos and up to 35 Front Office Focus clips through the season.

“They’re topics, like hospitality and security, that are the same types of things we deal with our clients,” Longobardi says. “We wanted to show similarities of how Major League teams go through some of the same things our clients go through.”

Each of the videos feature commentators and baseball executives. Front Office Focus highlights discussions with executives from the league’s 30 teams about issues ranging from team strategies to club operations, while Business of Baseball looks into how franchises transform the game through analytics and management, but also how they redefine the fan experience.

A recent episode, “The Business of Food,” featured a look at how food experiences now play into a fan’s trip to a ballpark., like a sit-down interview with Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer by CohnReznick Managing Partner Cindy McLoughlin talking about how the game day experience has evolved to include a culinary aspect. The restaurant industry is evolving inside and outside the ballpark.

“When you look at stadiums and games, it’s not just about baseball anymore,” McLoughlin says. “Fans expect an overall experience. People get to stadiums to stand in line, they need to get their Shack Burger.

“That led us to Danny Meyer to really peel back why it’s a benefit to him and how those synergies line up.”

The video topics originated in a brainstorming session featuring CohnReznick’s team and  MLB. The topics center around issues with innovation and analytics to elevate customer experience and retain loyalty. From these conversations, MLB could consider matching a team with a relevant topic.

“It puts us front and center with a really good brand,” Longobardi says of the partnership. “In any business, you want to align yourself with good organizations, and this relationship does that well and connects the right type of people we’re trying to attract, the C-Suite individuals to middle market to small public companies.”

READ MORE: The MLBPA Has Embraced Athlete-Driven Marketing

The sponsorship has allowed CohnReznick to provide clients, potential clients and employees with strong relationship building opportunities at games and events.

“It really has allowed us to spend some time with key clients and be able to spend quality time with our employees and enjoy ourselves,” Longobardi says. “We can more closely align MLB brand with our clients and our staff, and that makes it a unique experience.”

By tying in with behind the scenes content, CohnReznick hopes to resonate with clients beyond just a name on the screen.

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Warriors Surprise Nearly 20,000 Fans with Google Home Minis

In partnership with Google Nest, the Golden State Warriors gave Google Home Minis to every fan in attendance of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

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Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When 19,596 fans entered Oracle Arena for the NBA Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night, they were expecting an energetic atmosphere and high-level basketball. What they didn’t expect was that they would all be leaving with a new Google Home Mini smart speaker.

It seemed like a routine on-court contest as part of the Warriors’ partnership with home technology brand Google Nest: a fan was selected to shoot a halfcourt shot, and if the shot went in, every fan would take home a Google Home Mini. The fans didn’t know that even if the fan missed—which he did—they would still get to take home the prize.

“What makes the Warriors so special is their dedicated fanbase, so how can we thank the fans for making wherever the team plays feel more like home?” said Kate Whittington, a partner marketing manager with Google. “That was the objective: thank fans for being awesome, for feeling like home to the team, and to provide them with help for their own homes.”

READ MORE: St. Louis Blues Gamify Western Conference Finals with ‘Enter the Zone’

The giveaway was the largest and most expensive sporting event giveaway of a Google product in history, and it was the Warriors’ first major tech giveaway. With 20,000 Google Home Minis to transport and distribute, carrying out the activation and keeping it under wraps was no easy task.

“We have pallets and pallets and pallets of these things that are extremely expensive,” said Mike Kitts, VP of partnerships for the Warriors. “There’s a level of security and mobilization, and then we have to actually unpack and get them into position for distribution. When we talk about this being the most valuable giveaway ever done, there’s reasons for that. Finding a partner that can execute this—it’s not as easy as putting t-shirts on the back of seats.”

The Warriors were the favorites to reach the conference finals, but their first two playoff series wins didn’t come easily. Although the activation was planned in advance, the execution was not guaranteed until last Friday when the Warriors advanced past the Rockets in Game 6 of the conference semifinals.

“The difficulty of it is to try to plan for a future that is not promised,” Kitts said. “You’re playing in a series, and you can’t get ahead of yourself to assume you’re playing, but you have to appropriately plan the next round…The nature and scale of the platform of the Western Conference Finals provides enhanced amplification here.”

For Google Nest, timing was equally as important. Until recently, Google and Nest were separate brands, but the two organizations joined forces last week in a major rebrand.

“It coincided with the Western Conference Finals, so we wanted to lean into this moment to broadcast the new brand and show some love for our local sports team,” said Whittington.

READ MORE: Dodgers Continue Community Connection with Mexican Heritage Night

The Google Home Mini sells for $29, and although Whittington declined to disclose the exact dollar amount required to provide carry out the giveaway, she called the activation “an investment that indicates the level of importance the Warriors play with us.”

Beyond the giveaway itself, the Warriors and Google Nest spent the evening educating fans on ways they can put their device to use. The fan experience team showed off Google Assistant smart home capabilities in the arena, calling out commands to dim the lights and play music.

“Throughout the game, we’re demonstrating Google technology through the game experience,” Kitts said. “We’re queuing up fan experiences until the big moment so that each person gets the narrative that threads through this, and sees how authentically that Google is layered into the game-day experience.”

Even after the fans left the arena, the Warriors’ marketing efforts weren’t complete.

“With any good activation, we’re looking for the follow-through with shelf life,” Kitts said, explaining that when fans activated their Google Home Minis, they were automatically entered to win tickets to a future Warriors game.

The activation didn’t come about spontaneously. The Warriors’ relationship with Google represents the team’s prime location in the tech capital of the country, according to Kitts.

“We’re very lucky to be in this region of the world,” he said. “I would say the ownership group is reflective of this region, and it manifests itself in the overall culture and willingness and ability to partner with tech companies that we’re proud of.”

And with Tuesday’s giveaway, the Warriors and Google Nest took that cutting-edge culture and turned it into an unforgettable moment for fans.

“We’re all consumers, we’re all experience goers, so we’ve been to a ton of arenas and seen advertising—that’s not what this is,” Kitts said. “This is two brands coming together to think through, ‘How do we change the game-day experience and make it additive and cool and make fans remember and appreciate it?’”

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Oakland Coliseum Scores Naming Rights Partner

Per the San Francisco Chronicle, The Coliseum will now be known as the RingCentral Coliseum thanks to a new three-year, $3 million deal.

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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is set to have a new name.

Thanks to a three-year, $3 million deal, the Coliseum will now be known as the RingCentral Coliseum, according to Phil Matier of the San Francisco Chronicle

What do you need to know?

1. The deal is for three years with an option for a fourth year.

2. The Coliseum has been without a naming rights partner since Overstock.com pulled out of its $1.45 million-a-year deal with the Coliseum after the Raiders announced plans in 2016 to leave.

3. The $1 million-a-year deal represents a discount from the old one based on the fact that the A’s will be the only professional team playing in the venue past this season.

Who is RingCentral?

Founded in 1999, RingCentral is a publicly traded provider of cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions for businesses. The company has 2,500 employees with offices in the U.S. in Denver, Charlotte, and Boca Raton. 

Late last year, the company became a foundational partner for Chase Center, the new home of the Warriors. Estimates have that deal pegged at $1 million per year for 10 years.

Tale of two venues…

While only 16 miles separate Oracle Park and RingCentral Coliseum, the future of both couldn’t be more different.

Earlier this year, the San Francisco Giants signed a 10-year, $200 million dollar deal with Oracle to rename their home to Oracle Park.

With the A’s expected to leave the Coliseum in the coming years pending developments with their bid to get a new stadium, RingCentral was able to get a deal for a venue with two pro sports teams (at least for this year) at 1/20th the cost of what Oracle is paying the Giants.

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