Top 10 Firm Includes Sports Marketing in Growth Strategy

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When you're not Big Four but knocking on the door, you think big about advertising. That's why golf fans may hear in 2007 that RSM McGladrey is “the Official Accounting, Tax and Business Consulting firm of The PGA of America.”

And hardcore golf fans will see the Minneapolis-based firm's name on its new PGA event, the PGA McGladrey Team Championship, a series of local and PGA section championships culminating in a national championship at historic Pinehurst Resort, in North Carolina, with a $200,000 purse at the Championship level, according to the PGA.

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The "series”, described as the PGA's “first grass roots amateur best-ball championship,” will include amateurs and PGA section level professionals, the majority of whom are club pros. Teams that qualify will compete in the championship event in September. While it is not likely to get national television coverage, that's not the goal.

Starting in the spring, the amateur series will include an estimated 50,000 golfers, at roughly 600 local events and 41 regional championships. In addition to that brand exposure, existing and prospective clients and employees of the firm will get to play in the various local events, the company told Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

"One of our primary objectives is to increase the awareness of our brand across the United States and around the globe," RSM McGladrey Chief Marketing Officer Art Smith told the Business Journal. "This is a fabulous way to do it in a very direct fashion and also in a very grass-roots fashion."

He did not release the financial terms of the company's five-year deal with the PGA. Meanwhile, the firm is also attaching its name, literally, to high profile tour players Natalie Gulbis, Chris DiMarco and Zach Johnson. Those deals include logos on the golfers' clothing during events and two to three personal appearances a year at RSM McGladrey corporate events.

The brand placement already is paying dividends. This month's issue of Golf Digest features a cover photo of DiMarco wearing a shirt with the RSM McGladrey logo.

"The results to date have far exceeded what we had modeled out initially," Smith told the Business Journal. "The results have been absolutely spectacular."

Such sponsorships have proven effective, Don Hinchey, vice president of communications for sports marketing firm The Bonham Group in Denver, told the Business Journal. In the case of a tournament sponsorship, the company can receive television exposure, as well as additional mentions in newspapers across the country.

William Chipps, senior editor of the Chicago-based industry newsletter IEG Sponsorship Report, said RSM should be able to boost business-to-business sales by entertaining corporate clients at the golf events.

"A lot of C-level executives enjoy golf, so for a company in the professional-services category, golf makes a lot of sense as a platform to entertain these executives and create new business," he told the Business Journal.

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