American Marketer


BMW expands golf tournament events to reach wide audience

June 23, 2015



German automaker BMW is aiming to keep consumers engaged with a number of events this year as the official sponsor of Germany’s prominent golf tournament, the BMW International Open.

As the title sponsor of the tournament, BMW will undoubtedly receive plenty of publicity, but this year the automaker is going above and beyond. With additional events that promise to keep consumers entertained in a variety of ways, BMW is ensuring that the tournament will reach a wide audience.

"BMW is supporting related activities that will make the event more attractive to a diverse group of ages and levels of wealth," said Ron Kurtz, president of the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta. "Golf is a popular sport among the affluent, the BMW target audience, as both a participatory and spectator sport.

"This sponsorship will give BMW good exposure to its current and potential (aspirational affluent) target markets."

Mr. Kurtz is not affiliated with BMW, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

BMW was unable to respond by press deadline.

Hole in one
In anticipation of the beginning of the BMW International Open, which will take place from June 23-28 in Munich this year, BMW has begun hosting several smaller events. Providing consumers with more entertainment will help keep them engaged at the tournament and allow them to form more intimate connections with the brand.

bmw golf 1

BMW's "Opening Show Event" attracted a large crowd

The first event BMW launched was titled “Golf in the Park,” which began on June 19 and continued over the weekend. Golf in the Park aimed to inspire young people to try out different aspects of golf and experiment with the sport.

For example, visitors had the opportunity to play on a 9-hole putting green, compete in a longest putt contest and try out two driving cages on the premises. Giving consumers the chance to engage in the sport itself takes them out of the role of observer and allows them to be active participants.

bmw golf 2

BMW's "Golf in the Park" aims to engage consumers in a fresh way

In addition to Golf in the Park, BMW will also be hosting the annual “Opening Show Event” on Tuesday, June 23. This event will feature a number of professional golfers competing in a comical “Hole-in-One” challenge.

Golfers including Fabrizio Zanotti, Camilo Villegas, Max Kieffer and others will fight for the position of Hole-in-One champion. The winner of this competition will receive a BMW E Bike.

The Opening Show Event will also feature music and commentary, officially marking the start of the tournament and signaling to visitors that it is time to direct their attention to golf.

turnberry isle golf

Golf often attracts affluents and important influencers

Golf outings
BMW has previously been involved in golf tournaments, which traditionally attract an affluent audience. For example, in 2012 the German automaker used its sponsorship of the BMW ClubCorp Best Ball Challenge as an opportunity to offer test drives and build brand awareness.

The 2012 tournament took place June 21-24 at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH. BMW had exclusive access to an audience with household incomes of approximately $256,000 and was able to position its vehicles and products at the forefront of their minds (see story).

BMW is not the only luxury automaker that has decided to tap golf as a way of attracting consumers. German automaker Mercedes-Benz kicked off the golf season at The Masters this year with a social media-driven campaign that featured a new Instagram account focusing on the tournaments.

The Mercedes-Benz Performance Center will be representing the brand as the official vehicle of nine tournaments this season, including The Masters and PGA Championships. Maintaining an active presence on several social media accounts will present Mercedes with an opportunity to engage with golf fans beyond its performance center at the events (see story).

BMW's sponsorship of the International Open this year will continue to help the brand connect with affluent consumers.

"This event will generate international publicity for BMW and give it content for communications in social media and other forms of digital communications to its fan base," Mr. Kurtz said. "Sponsorship of this event, given all the other elements of BMW’s massive marketing program, is not likely to have an identifiable direct effect on near term BMW sales."

Final Take
Kay Sorin, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York