Published on May 22, 2018, at 9:10 a.m.
by Halle Russo.
The Masters is far more than “a tradition unlike any other.” From the Augusta National golf course itself to the winner’s green jacket, it seems as if the annual tournament brings out the inner golf enthusiast in everyone. In fact, The Masters draws an average of 250,000 people to Augusta, Georgia, each year, and adds over $127.5 million to Augusta’s economy.
So, how does a single event at the beginning of April attract so much attention to one Georgia town?
It’s all about the brand.
Since Robert Trent Jones Jr. took his first shot at 10:35 a.m. during the 1934 Masters, the tournament has become a symbol of tradition and excellence that transcends the golf world. The Masters is something that every public relations practitioner can look to for key lessons in brand management.
1. Less is more.
The Masters only has six corporate sponsors: IBM, AT&T, Mercedes-Benz, UPS, Rolex and Delta. There are no brands listed on the concession stand menu. And, there are only four minutes of commercial time allotted per hour during television coverage of The Masters.
This is a rare phenomenon in today’s world where every event in every industry seems to be overrun by corporate messaging that pulls consumers in a thousand different directions. This year’s Super Bowl had 29 official partners alone. However, the identity of The Masters is preserved by the lack of “noise” surrounding the event. The focus is solely on the tournament, the game and, of course, the brand.
The Masters shows public relations practitioners that it is time to reevaluate the quality of the sponsors and target audience of our own campaigns and events. Do all of these groups truly align with our brand’s goals?
2. Know what you’re promoting, and, more importantly, what makes it distinct.
Every brand is essentially trying to get consumers to buy into an experience. Whether it is the experience of a physical event like The Masters, or the experience of using a certain product like driving a car, public relations practitioners must capitalize on the aspects of the experience that make it stand out in the market.
For The Masters, the experience at Augusta National is one-of-a-kind. It’s not only about the game, but also about the traditions that surround the event. Official Masters gear can only be purchased at Augusta National’s gift shop. Attendees are referred to as patrons, even on television. All caddies wear Augusta National’s uniform of a white jumpsuit and a green hat. Without these details, the experience at the heart of the brand would be lost.
3. Always stay true to your roots.
Augusta National was founded at the time of the Great Depression when many golf courses were shutting down. Since then, it has continued to make headlines despite the political debates, technological advances and economic hardships that typically dominate national and international news.
The Masters stood out during the Great Depression and remains relevant today because the brand quickly solidified its values and vision, and has stuck to the same values and vision ever since. Although it was not officially called The Masters until 1939, the venue and many of the rules that make the event unique have stayed the same. And, whenever the brand takes on a new initiative, it always aligns with its mission of “supporting the game’s continuous growth around the world.”
For instance, many of today’s brands are expected to demonstrate some level of social responsibility or charitable work. The Masters is no exception. In 2011, the Masters Tournament Foundation was formed with the goal of “annually investing in development programs for the game of golf worldwide,” which directly relates to The Masters’ mission. In order for any brand to last, it must continuously reinforce and remain true to the foundation upon which it was created.
While The Masters may be just a golf tournament, it’s surely not just any golf tournament. The Masters exemplifies what it means to successfully create and maintain a strong brand.