WPP says “2023 promises to be a highly competitive environment for brands and rights-holders looking to get ahead in the sports industry”. I also see the sports broadcasting landscape has changed significantly in 2022. Streaming became a very important battlefield.
BMW has long been a major sponsor of golf. Last December, BMW extended its sponsorship cooperation with DP World Tour until 2027.
In this interview, I would like to learn from Jörn Plinke – Head of BMW Golfsport Marketing & Partnerships – about BMW‘s approach and goals in golf sponsorship.
What are the golf sponsorship trends in 2023?
In general, people are delighted that spectators and fans once again have the opportunity to be present at golf tournaments to cheer on their idols, now that Covid restrictions have been lifted.
We are also very pleased about this in our capacity as organizers of the tournament bearing our name, the BMW International Open.
At the same time, we have learned that the sport of golf is increasingly open to new target groups and that more and more children and young adults, and larger numbers of women, are playing golf.
For BMW, the objective is to make our own tournaments more attractive to new golf target groups, using new formats as well – with the keyword being digitalization. All spectators, fans, and customers expect a premium experience, on-site and in digital form.
BMW takes this approach for all aspects of the company’s involvement in golf:
- the organizer of the BMW International Open (DP World Tour),
- title partner of the BMW Championship (PGA TOUR),
- the BMW PGA Championship (DP World Tour),
- and the BMW Ladies Championship (LPGA Tour).
BMW has been involved in professional and amateur golf for nearly 40 years and has contributed to the development of the sport and the on-site experience as a global golf partner throughout this period.
How much has golf sponsorship helped BMW to improve brand perception and purchase conversion?
In general, we know, and we feel that BMW reaches the right audience with our golf engagement. There is a perfect fit between golfers and premium brand car owners.
As with all marketing measures, it primarily comes down to two things: to represent the brand and its values, and to send a message to customers, golf fans, and spectators.
BMW is very interested in offering its customers special sports and meaningful brand experiences through its sporting commitments, either by actively participating in a sporting event, such as motorsports, or likes actively organizing and optimizing events and experiences.
There are countless examples of this. For example, BMW has organized and run the BMW International Open since 1989 and the BMW Golf Cup since 1982.
BMW is also aiming to be engaged beyond the sport itself. One example of this is the BMW Championship, where more than 44.5 million US dollars have been generated for the benefit of the Evans Scholars Foundation since it was first staged in 2007.
This grants college scholarships to caddies and the BMW Championship alone has enabled more than 3,330 young people to move into further education.
The golf tournaments that BMW is involved in are very successful platforms that are also used to drive customer loyalty and sales.
How is BMW using OTT media to reach the larger golfing crowd?
In 2021, the organizational role of BMW at the BMW International Open involved working with GolfTV/Discovery as an OTT platform, in the form of a legal media partnership.
BMW itself uses OTT media as a transmitter, to communicate its global golfing involvement and to achieve visibility for the numerous tour and tournament partnerships around the world.
How do you demonstrate the value of golf sponsorship vs other marketing activities?
Of course, we measure the performance of our partnerships and marketing activities. Within the two key marketing areas, CRM and Brand, we set to ourselves specific goals for all our sponsorship activities and regularly check and monitor their effectiveness. These goals vary, depending on the partnership.
Some brand activities are more focused on reaching out to new audiences, others are more focused on hosting customers and delivering a premium brand experience.
How do you measure the contribution and impact on your car sales & brand equity?
The BMW sports engagements, especially the golf platforms, provide an excellent opportunity to get in touch with all kinds of customers – new and existing ones.
Our CRM systems track when and where we get in touch with our customers for the first time, but not if that person has previously experienced the brand in any other way.
Of course, we do not know what the final reason for buying a BMW is, but we always monitor our activities and optimize the impact.
Will you consider sponsoring the LIV Golf tournaments too?
BMW is involved as an organizer of the BMW International Open and title partner of other tournaments on the DP World Tour, the PGA TOUR, and the LPGA Tour.
BMW aims to offer spectators, fans, and athletes a fantastic sporting event and brand experience, and we are confident that we achieve this successfully.
This is why we recently extended our partnership with the DP World Tour, with the BMW Championship partnership on the PGA TOUR also running until 2027.