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.