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Weir's Rich Deal

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As mentioned on this site over the weekend, Mike Weir inked a new sponsorship deal with Thomson Reuters yesterday. No financial details were announced however, and IMG, Weir’s business representatives, wouldn’t say what’s going to happen to Bell Canada, who had spent millions on the golfer over the last decade.

Weir’s deal with Bell was largely considered to be worth around $1 million per year, as it came up for renewal just after the left-hander won the Masters. However, with Bell vastly overpaying for their sponsorship of the Olympics, the telephone giant has been dropping golf faster than John Daly discards a cigarette butt on the course. I guess that’s what happens when you spend $200M on one sporting event.

The Globe and Mail played the story on the front of their sports section while I couldn’t convince my editor at the Post to write about it at all. Why? Well Thomson owns a good portion of the Globe and Mail, so not only did Lorne Rubenstein get access to Weir in advance, but they ran the story prominently, perhaps more than was warranted for a piece with no actual numbers.

Considering how much Thomson paid for Weir’s endorsement, as well as the fact he won’t even be wearing Reuters on his cap since the acquisition isn’t complete, it is surprising to hear the deal doesn’t seem to have all that much to do with marketing:

“It’s a little bit more casual,” Weir said. “Maybe Geoff and his partners will come in to where I’m playing. Maybe we’ll have a dinner and I’ll do a clinic on the Monday or Tuesday somewhere in the area.”

Rubenstein picks up on one key element — Geoff Beattie, the chairman of CTVGlobemedia and Thomson’s deputy chairman, as well as the man who run’s Woodbridge, the Thomson family holding company — is a golfer, and a good one. Beattie plays at several clubs — including London Hunt, Toronto Golf Club, and Rosedale. He only posted a handful of scores last year (see that list here) but they were all below 80. Not bad at all. As for Beattie, he made the arrangement sound, well, pretty loose, unusual considering most of these deals have firm commitments:

“The relationship has started off with a huge trust factor,” said Beattie, a two-handicap golfer. “This wasn’t a complicated thing to do. Mike doesn’t need incentives from us to try to do his best, for example. There are no triggers in this contract.

“We’re starting with a lot of flexibility, and we need to do some thinking as this merger [with Reuters] comes together,” Beattie said. “But we don’t need to say to Mike that he has to give us 3.7 days or that we need to give him 12 days notice for something. It’s a matter of mutual respect. I can’t think of a better sponsorship for us.”

So what’s the end impact on Weir, aside from putting a big cheque in his pocket annually? Not much, though the golfer said he might be obliged to play a little more internationally to represent Thomson.

Rubenstein’s story is here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • RT:

    Do you not think that you may be a bit biased re: Globe coverage of this story? Does Lorne Rubenstein not already have a good relationship with Mike Weir which could be the reason he gained early access to him…rather than the fact that the Globe is owned by Thomson, Weir’s new main sponsor? Certainly, the latter helps but it seems to me that the Thomson-Globe relationship is not the only, even main reason, for Lorne’s early access.

    Even without the numbers, the fact that Weir, Canada’s only major winner, is moving main sponsors is worthy of prominent coverage, regardless of the apparently petty motivations of your National Post editors.

  • No, IMG was pretty clear that Thomson wanted early access for the Globe, and I can’t blame them. I was actually surprised they didn’t let them have it exclusively. Does Lorne know Mike better than I do? Indeed. But I don’t think that had anything to do with this issue.

  • IMG, trust ? It’s in writing, nothing casual with IMG.

    And SANDRA POST has more major wins than Mike, if you add her two Dinah Shores wins to the LPGA title!

  • care to tell your readers how you know that bell overpaid for the olympics sponsorship deal? Or is that just your opinion? When is the last time you did a sponsorship deal in the millions? How did you do your valuation? And yes, Sandra did win majors. More evidence of how little care you take when you write. Is there anything in your head other than fat cells?

  • Hey Bell Fan — I didn’t write anything about Mike Weir being Canada’s only major winner — one of those who left comments did — so perhaps you should take more care to read more carefully.

    As for the Bell deal, well they offered a huge premium over the next closest bidder — Telus — and most sports marketing experts feel they vastly overpaid, so there it is.

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