Beyond TV rights and merchandise the world of sports has always relied on the corporate sector to support and sponsor various sporting organizations, endeavors and participants. Corporations have become increasingly clever as to how they market their brands to consumers. Super Bowl commercials become an internet or YouTube sensation prior to their actual airing during the big game. Golf is no different and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am captured this strategic trend perfectly with the Jordan Spieth bobblehead. Given to 8,000 spectators on Saturday, this seemingly simple gesture gained significant attention and publicity even before its release. The beauty, power and essence as to why companies choose to align themselves with athletes was made obvious by the degree of media attention the bobblehead campaign generated. This type of promotion has become a staple for introducing or reinvigorating brands as well as keeping them topical and new. It brings a brand to the forefront of our minds by connecting to the sports heroes and celebrities that we already admire.
Interestingly Jordan Spieth, now 22 years old, the second youngest golfer to win the Masters and US Open Championship only behind Tiger Woods, is linked to some of the oldest brands in the US.
The fun loving bobblehead that has become classic collectibles is thought to date back at least 150 years. According to the bobblehead website the earliest known reference to similar toys is from 1842. While they have gone in and out of favor over the years, they have a history and place in pop culture. The bobblehead set for the Beatles became one of the most famous and rare of all time, and it is still a valuable collectible today. In 1999, the San Francisco Giants baseball team handed out 35,000 free Willie Mays bobbleheads during one of their games. The Jordan Spieth bobblehead is a reminder that what was once old can become new and can also become the key component of of modern advertising strategy to bring attention to a classic brand.
Another American classic, AT&T has roots dating back to founder Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and its history in the United States. The company that became AT&T began in 1875, in an arrangement among inventor Alexander Graham Bell and the two men, Gardiner Hubbard and Thomas Sanders, who agreed to finance his work. At the time, Bell was trying to invent a talking telegraph — a telephone.
As for Spieth’s thoughts on his bobblehead “I mean, I don’t know how, but somehow I think it’s even better looking than me. Definitely better looking than Jake. No, it’s cool. It’s really cool — we heard about, our team, heard about this a while ago and there’s been some pretty cool little kind of commercial spiffs around it, and I’ve been kind of re-tweeting them and they will continue to come. And I think it’s awesome that I have this support from AT&T, obviously I knew I already did, but it’s cool to see it in action.”
While Spieth is taking his new fame and number one position in in the world golf ranking in stride he still has the awe of a young man when meeting his heroes. “The other day I met Dirk Nowitzki for the first time. I grew up living half a mile from him, and he was my sports hero growing up in Dallas. I had never met the guy. And so the other day, what was it, a few weeks ago I got the opportunity to go down after the Mav’s game and hang out with the players and take a picture with Dirk. And I thought that was pretty awesome. I think that that was maybe a — I wouldn’t say, that’s probably an advantage to the position we’re in, but with it comes responsibilities for sure” says Spieth.
When asked about Tiger as an inspiration and if there is one tournament or moment that made it obvious he was doing something special Spieth has no hesitation responding with a definitive moment. “Yeah, it was the 2005 Masters. The chip in on 16. That’s the greatest clutch chip shot. As many as he’s had, that was one that I’ve watched over and over and over again on YouTube on just how incredible it was. It was when there was rough there. It was just backed up against the collar of the rough. And I had that similar chip last year and didn’t even get close to making it. In fact, I kind of flubbed it, but I made the putt which was nice.”
While the number one position has its advantageous beyond bobbleheads; a bobblehead of a sports celebrity in the number one position can be the key part of a strategy to reintroduce a classic brand to a new generation.