Monday, 8 November 2010

RICKIE FOWLER (PGA) - BRAND + SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY


RICKIE YUTAKA FOWLER is an extremely likeable, handsome young guy who’s also laid-back, genuinely approachable, and largely unknown except in NCAA circles. This despite becoming the only golfer in history to be the NCAA's 'Player of the Year' as a freshman (at Oklahoma State) while also notably breaking all of Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh’s and Phil Michelson’s NCAA records after only a few years of taking up the sport.  He’s also one of the fastest in the sport to have earned a PGA Tour card so if you haven’t heard of him yet you certainly will.



As of this post, Rickie is currently sponsored by Puma Golf, Rolex, and Titleist (ProV/Scotty Cameron,) followed on social media channels by more than 90,000 (at the time of this post,) has represented the United States at the Walker Cup and the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup Team - and all before even turning twenty-two. Goodbuzz Inc. was extremely proud to be selected by Rickie's management team SFX Golf to develop a brand, social media, and activation strategy that would position him for success and reach out to a new generation of 'wired' golfers.



THE CHALLENGE

Professional Golf has changed a great deal over the years and never more so than with the advent of social media and a new 'wired' generation. As Andrew Giles, Senior Brand Strategist at Goodbuzz explains, “Golf as a brand today feels antiquated, inaccessible, and corporate.  It’s a game that may be better accessorized by a defibrillator than Puma Gear – and that’s the primary problem.” Testing only confirmed this notion.



SFX Golf established an overarching goal to create a bulletproof brand that was bigger than the score Rickie posted at the end of a round.  Goodbuzz thereby determined that the brand needed to feel authentic, connected, accessible, and genuinely represent who he is and what he liked.   


STRATEGY
Our Golf 2.0 strategy ultimately requires a new 'connected' way of thinking: an always-on, real-time brand strategy.  Good marketing is good storytelling and for a brand to be successful in this competitive era it must have an engaging story. Fortunately, Rickie’s back-story was uniquely interesting, inspiring and entertaining.



As Andrew Giles explained, “Rickie Fowler is a true challenger brand.  If you are cheering for Rickie, you’re cheering for the underdog - the little guy fighting against the establishment. Twitter and social media give these followers a window seat. We ultimately needed to ensure that the Rickie Fowler brand shared little in common with the current PGA positioning.  It had to feel like a fresh, understated upstart challenging the status quo. This naturally led to our Golf 2.0 positioning and strategy.”



To the casual consumer, the power that some brands hold seems like a mystery or stroke of luck. But there's nothing unintentional about it.  To this end, Goodbuzz architected the brand strategy to be equal parts ‘hero’ and ‘rebel’ - a reluctant anti-establishment hero, who’s courageous, overcomes tremendous obstacles and persists in difficult times.  Add a dash of moxie and an extremely competitive position could be established in short order.



Rickie’s primarily “Millennial” constituents access the Internet continuously first and foremost for information and for entertainment and secondarily for connection. Our strategy needed to make Rickie Fowler both relevant and accessible with a goal of using social media to let fans come along for the ride.





ECOSYSTEM
The resulting digital infrastructure positioned Rickie Fowler as the next generation of Golf (or what we coined “Golf 2.0.”)  Therefore, whether tweeting, uploading pictures, videos or commentary, Rickie would be extremely approachable and accessible.  A website was developed and integrated with social media feeds and real-time PGA updates.



Rickie's promise to his constituents is nothing short of full transparency and unfettered access to his life (and we’re not talking about ghost-posting either.)  From the beginning, Rickie enthusiastically adopted social media (Facebook and Twitter specifically.)  For example, Rickie tweeted his frustration at hitting an errant fairway shot immediately after hitting a ball. This level of access was unprecedented in professional sports.  Ultimately, Rickie’s exemplary play on the course ensured he was always in the spotlight and driving the discussion. 

Our strategy was to make his followers active participants and stakeholders in Rickie’s success or failure and ensure an authentic emotional connection is made with his brand.  This unique and distinct positioning helps followers separate and isolate his brand from his seemingly antiquated competitors, as they are with him every step of the way.   

We look forward to walking this path with Rickie and watching him change the world of Golf as we know it.  It’s a tall order certainly but he is definitely positioned to disrupt the establishment as we know it. Hold on for the ride.  Note: Rickie Fowler's Brand, Social and Activation Strategies were proudly developed and launched by Goodbuzz for SFX Golf.  What can we do for you?