New Winner Provides Value To Brands
The return to the normal date on the calendar for The Masters this past April was another positive sign for the sports industry. While Tiger Woods missing from the field may have dampened some enthusiasm, the explosion onto the scene of Hideki Matsuyama is a great sign of the global growth of the game. This will bode well for consumption and engagement into the future for a sport that actually gained relevance in the past year. That being said, like most sports during the Pandemic, traditional “viewership” has slumped as measurement and consumption habits change. We took a look at what shots landed, and which missed, during the weekend at Augusta this year.
Compared to The Masters event held in the Fall, viewership saw a decline during the final round of the event. Comparatively, the final round was down 22.67%, with an average audience of 9.45M viewers. A few reasons for the lack of viewership could be attributed to Woods being out of the tournament due to his recent car accident, or Matsuyama entering the day with a four stroke lead, putting some of the stars out of contention.
Regardless, the Masters still held a historic event with Matsuyama becoming the first Japanese golfer to win The Masters and the first to ever win a Major.
Over the course of the final broadcast, the tune-in rate increased, and leveled off while the leading groups were on the back 9. The peak of the event reached 27% more viewers than the start of the event, which occurred on the 18th hole, right after Matsuyama’s tee shot landed safely in the fairway. After the steep drop, viewership held steady until Matsuyama walked off the green and into the clubhouse, which then resulted in another drop as the broadcast went to commercial break in preparation for the Green Jacket Ceremony.
During the final round, brands captured just over two hours of on-air exposure appearing on assets like golf shirts (front of shirt, sleeves, collars), hats, golf bags, towels, etc. With the size of the audience and the total duration captured by all brands, equivalent exposure value netted brands just over $32.5 million in value. 42% of that value can be attributed to Matsuyama and his four brand sponsors: Srixon, Lexus, Indeed, and Cleveland Golf.
With the size of the audience and the total duration captured by all brands, equivalent exposure value netted brands just over $32.5 million in value.
Below is a look into the top five brands from the broadcast and also how they performed on social during the final day of the event. The top two brands are directly attributed to Hideki Matsuyama as Srixon appeared on Matsuyama’s hat, shirt, and bag in addition to Lexus’ exposure on his shirt as well.
While Matsuyama entered the final round with a sizeable lead, and as the clear front-runner to win the event, the movement into that top spot helped create a significant lift for his sponsors. Entering “Moving Day” on the weekend, Matsuyama was tied for 6th on the leaderboard, and as his third round progressed, moved into sole possession of first place by the end of the round.
When comparing his brand exposure on the final round (sole possession of the top spot all day), to his third round, his on-air exposure for brands increased nearly 4.5x.
During the third round, Matsuyama sprung into the lead, finishing the final eight holes, six under par. When the broadcast returned from weather delay, Matsuyama was on the 10th hole while the leader Rose was through 6. 95% of brand duration occurred after the weather delay and while he was on the back nine.
When compared to the Final Round, Matsuyama was featured steadily. Especially on the back 9 while other groups were wrapping up their rounds, essentially causing more exclusivity for the final groupings. The lift from playing in that group can be seen below with a hole-by-hole breakdown of Matsuyama brands. Two of Matsuyama’s top five holes for sponsors were on the back 9, and with sole exclusivity of the broadcast on the 18th hole. The famous walk up to the green provided an extended amount of close up coverage for his represented brands.
The post round walk to the clubhouse (another extended amount of exposure for Matsuyama) and the Green Jacket Ceremony provided an additional 3.5 minutes of brand exposure after his round. His shirt sponsors captured all the value here as Matsuyama was not wearing a hat during the Green Jacket Ceremony. In total, post round exposure for his brands contributed to 7% of his total brand duration during the final round.
The Masters still holds its place in the Pantheon of American sport. Like The Daytona 500, the US Open in tennis, The Kentucky Derby, The Super Bowl, The World Series and the NBA Finals, there is always added attention and brand value brought to golf’s biggest weekend. Engagement and brand placement is evolving, and the brands who have the prominent placement at moments in time, combined with social value adds, are the ones that are succeeding on the biggest stages. We also continue to see more value in the long play, companies that partner and invest in the overall business of an athlete and incorporate him or her into their overall scheme. One-offs are tough to sustain, and while they may bring in value for a moment, the invested brands, especially in a personality and performance driven individual sport like golf, win out. In this year’s case, the brands who had a global vision and partnered with a rising Japanese player took home the best investment. One which will continue to pay off as we head towards the Olympics, and as we become even more world-focused on recognition, especially in a high-end sport like golf.