AIG is the new title sponsor of the Women’s British Open

By: November 30, 2018

Back in 2015, I already had the feeling that Ricoh’s sponsorship of the Women’s British Open will not continue after 2018. The company has been the title sponsor of the Ricoh Women’s British Open since 2007.

In 2018, the Women’s British Open hosted one of the year’s strongest international fields with competitors from 28 countries, and England’s Georgia Hall won the trophy at Royal Lytham & St Annes.

Yesterday, AIG has announced that they will be the new title sponsor of the Women’s British Open between 2019 and 2024. For AIG, the Women’s British Open is its first title sponsorship in professional golf.

The 2019 Championship will be played over the Marquess Course at Woburn Golf Club, outside London from 1 – 4 August. It will be the season’s final Major and is staged in conjunction with IMG.

AIG’s golf sponsorship is not totally new in this region. AIG is the title sponsor for a host of ILGU District and National competitions (ILGU = Irish Ladies Golf Union).

AIG Women's British Open Championship 2019

Peter Zaffino, Chief Executive Officer, General Insurance and Chief Operating Officer, AIG said “AIG embraces this opportunity to partner with the Women’s British Open, which promotes diversity and puts a spotlight on international women champions.  The goals of this Championship reflect AIG’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly in our own organization.”

The partnership also extends AIG’s commitment to good corporate citizenship. The LPGA Foundation supports junior golf programs, scholarships and financial assistance programs for women and young girls.

The 5 E’s of Girls Golf, developed through the LPGA*USGA Girls Golf program, teaches more than just the game of golf; it also focuses on skills that are specific to the development of young girls and aims to inspire them for the game of life.

Golf sponsorship trends

IEG found that the value of worldwide golf sponsorship reached $1.82 billion in 2016. In North America, the insurance industry is among the TOP5 sponsor industries who are sponsoring golf.

AIG Women's British Open Championship 2019 golf sponsorship

I think sponsors like AIG could take their golf sponsorship to a higher level by utilizing storytelling and content marketing. Not so long time ago, sponsorship meant to place a logo in the most visible part of a golf venue.

Sponsors should reap (not just) the low hanging fruit and the opportunities provided by social and mobile technologies. The challenge is to find out interesting stories that can engage the audience of golf tournaments.

An interesting challenge is when you have an annual event like the AIG Women’s British Open and you have to keep up the engagement with the fans between two events.

I give you some examples:

  1. Waste Management Phoenix Open – they built a “live team” ready to post content and interact with fans in real time.
  2. Use unique content formats and don’t forget to experiment with new ones. The British Open (aka The Open) is really good in this field. Have you seen the Hats Off to Tom” campaign of Mastercard?
  3. TaylorMade sponsorship of the Masters Tournament – TaylorMade used Twitter Amplify to share live moments with fans in near real-time. This way TaylorMade was able to target every positive mention of the Masters. The average cost per view (CPV) ran as low as £0.02 and there were 1.41 million video views in total, including paid and organic. The campaign also generated impressive view rates, which were as high as 23.1%.

With data gathered from digitally-oriented golf courses and interactive fan experiences (e.g. during the 2014 Ryder Cup, the organizers used Radio Frequency Identification (RFID wristband)), we can gain significant information about our fans’ behavior, needs, and preferences.

Armed with rich customer data sponsors like AIG will be able to target fans more precisely. For example, by mining past attendance data.

I am sure (or at least hope so) that Woburn Golf Club who has been the host of the Women’s British Open for quite a long time, has got in-golf course purchase history and where the fans moved within the golf course.

Having such specific information will enable the sponsor to target more effectively the right people and provide authentic engagement both:

  • inside and outside the golf course,
  • offline and online as well.

I can warmly recommend building a foundation to enable delivery of a more customized, data-driven experience in the future. This will require golf clubs as hosts of golf tournaments to explore new technologies that can enhance fan interactions and loyalty programs as well.