As marketers, we constantly hear about the importance of adaptation. How it’s “crucial to keep up with the times” or, “if your brand isn’t evolving to meet the needs of your consumer, they’ll find one that is.”
With this constant focus on growth and enhancement, we have to ask: are the good old days of simply relying on brand recognition truly gone? Or is it still possible to achieve marketing success without conforming to the latest trends?
We didn’t have to look further than Augusta, GA, to find our answer.
A self-proclaimed “tradition unlike any other,” The Masters is considered the best and most prestigious golf tournament in the world. For marketers, it is admired as one of the world’s greatest brands. Since 1934, this annual event has continued to gain popularity and prestige, all while changing very little about its marketing and branding strategies. Even amidst all these lessons on evolution, the brand has found marketing success in staying true to its roots and the idea that “less is more.”
The 2019 Masters had only six sponsors, many of which have been associated with the tournament for several years. Each pay an estimated $6 million annually for their title. But even then, sponsor brands have a very minimal presence: no signage on the course or in the concessions area, a shared four minutes of ads per broadcast hour and other strict rules about how their association with this tournament can be promoted.
It may not sound glamorous, but pure association and less competition can certainly pay off. In 2018, Nielsen estimated a total of $128 million in media value for tournament sponsors. Considering these brands don’t get so much as a logo on a caddie bib, their return is pretty impressive.
Several other original aspects of the tournament make sure this experience is not just one-of-a-kind, but also traditional — and yes, extremely exclusive. Official Masters gear can only be purchased at Augusta National’s gift shop. Tickets are either inherited from a family member or won via a lottery. Caddies wear the classic uniform of a white jumpsuit and a green hat.
These are some of the most recognizable elements of the tournament, and without these seemingly small details, the experience at the heart of the brand would be lost.
Unlike other popular sporting events, The Masters isn’t making millions of dollars in revenue through multiple sponsorships or by licensing merchandise outside of the club’s gift shop. It doesn’t sell TV rights to the highest bidder or price :30 commercial spots at upwards of $5 million. Heck, they don’t even charge more than a few dollars for a beer.
The purity of The Master’s identity is one of its most attractive features. It isn’t bogged down by “noise” surrounding the event; the focus is solely on the game, the players and the experience of Augusta National.
Marketing trends will come and go and there will always be a new method, measurement or message to test. But at the end of the day, our true priority as marketers should be staying true to our brand and our goals — even if that means less is more.