RBC continues its big bet on golf

Though it got little coverage – it is interesting to see the RBC isn’t backing down from the golf marketing business even after the departure of former chief marketing officer Jim Little. Late last week the company announced it was adding Irishman Graeme McDowell and FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker to its list of players it is paying to wear the RBC logo.

Of course that also means McDowell will be at the RBC Canadian Open at Glen Abbey, as will Snedeker, who also came this past year. No, it isn’t an appearance fee – but with the exception of Donald last year, that’s effectively what it has become.

Here’s the complete list:

As part of Team RBC, all players will showcase the RBC logo on their golf bags and apparel and be featured in RBC marketing and advertising campaigns planned for the

U.S., Canada, and international markets. McDowell and Snedeker join Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan, Stephen Ames, Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet, David Hearn and Morgan Pressel as RBC’s ambassadors.

And there’s a new RBC name signing the press releases – Jane Broderick, who has assumed Little’s previous role:

“We are excited to have Graeme and Brandt join our team of world-class athletes,” said Jane Broderick, chief brand and communications officer at RBC. “These players are well-respected, have global recognition and will serve as terrific ambassadors for RBC. As one of the key drivers of RBC’s sponsorship program, golf enables us to build our brand and connect with golf fans around the world.”

The release then included the typical platitudes from McDowell and Snedeker about how thrilled they are with RBC.

That said there are some interesting elements of the announcement that is worth discussing. For starters, Fred Couples is gone. He wasn’t coming to play in Canada any time soon and apparently there was no spot for an RBC logo on his clothing or bag (seriously). Weir is also back, though it is doubtful RBC is paying him what they once had to fork out considering his stru

ggles in recent years. And the Canadian Open is a lot less about Weir these days. But that a deal got done is significant — and notice IMG also inked arrangements with Thomson Reuters (despite Woodbridge founder Geoff Beattie’s departure from the company — Beattie is known as a very good golfer and avid player).

DeLaet and Hearn have been elevated into the mix, which is likely good for both of them, though they were lesser parts of RBC’s sponsorship package in the past.

And both Donald and Els are back – which is somewhat surprising. Donald skipped the Canadian Open last year, something that didn’t sit well with the bank. He was also a lot less expensive when RBC first inked a deal with him – at the time he was ranked near No. 30 in the world. He rose to No. 1 and certainly commands a great dollar value. Els, on the other hand, won the British Open with RBC on his bag and then complained about how the bank ran him around when the Canadian Open was played. I kind of wondered how those comments would sit with RBC – but apparently CEO Gord Nixon, who played with Els at Rosedale during Canadian Open week – found a way to look past the remarks.

As for Kuchar and Furyk – both are good guys to work with, good for the Canadian Open, and bring a ton of air time for RBC considering they are regularly at the top of leaderboards.

I don’t know how long these deals are in place for – but assume a couple of years with an option. That means RBC, which has a deal with the Canadian Open through to 2017, is standing firmly behind its plan to continue to use golf as a key marketing vehicle. That’s good for those who are wearing the bank’s logo – and significant for the Canadian Open, which will have at least seven top non-Canadians in the field this year.

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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.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • On behalf of all golfers in Canada I would like to thank Mr. G. Nixon and RBC for committing some of their advertising dollars to this great sport. If it wasn’t for RBC where would the Canadian Open be???
    The bank has done a great service to the sport, to Canadians and their customers. I am pleased to be associated with firms like RBC that sponsor the great sport on earth.

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