As golf enthusiasts lament the end of the sport’s grand slam of events, it’s a perfect time to take a look at a golf-hotel relationship that gets to the heart of branding.
As many know (by the well-emblazoned logo on apparel), Jumeirah is a sponsor of 22-year-old Rory McIlroy, the Irish gent who stole the show at the U.S. Open in June. And while McIlroy experienced some wrist problems in subsequent major play, he still finished fourth overall after the four professional majors of 2011.
I asked Jumeirah to expound on this sponsorship: What do they get out of it? What does Rory get besides some cool hats?
Jumeirah Group signed McIlroy as a global brand ambassador in 2007 as soon as he turned professional, according to Thatcher Brown, VP, brand strategy & management at Jumeirah.
|Golfer Rory McIlroy holding the US Open trophy.
“The reason we were able to sponsor him at such an early stage is that our chief financial officer, Alastair Murray, lived in the same town as Rory's family, Holywood in County Down, Northern Ireland, and had watched the young prodigy grow into the world-class golfing phenomenon we are all witnessing today,” Brown said. “That foresight and recognition of quality quickly showed its worth when Rory snapped up the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 and a victory at Quail Hollow, USA, in 2010. His inspirational performance to win the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Maryland USA so conclusively reflects the genius of the sportsman and the commitment of Jumeirah.”
Nice words from a brand man, and a bit of a risk in golf if you consider what certain companies lost when the reputation of one Tiger Woods turned sour.
Brown said they couldn’t be happier with McIlroy.
“The relationship is not just about visibility and branding, it is about a commitment to premium quality and success,” he said. “Inspiring, generous with his time and passionate about the pursuit of excellence, Rory shares our commitment to continuous improvement, consistency and attention to detail. So, yes, it has been a great investment and we look forward to continuing to build on this multi-faceted relationship.”
Jumeirah and McIlroy agreed to a 3-year contract in February 2010. The company did not disclose how much it contributes to Team McIlroy, but the BBC estimates that McIlroy earns more than US$10 million in endorsement deals, including the Jumeirah partnership. He’s certain to cash in handsomely when his current contracts expire.
But it goes beyond the money. McIlroy has done some fun publicity events at Jumeirah’s properties, according to Brown.
He has played tennis at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, cooked at MJ's Steakhouse at Mina A'Salam hotel in Madinat Jumeirah and tried turtle handling in Burj Al Arab.
“In addition he has encouraged young golfers in the (United Arab Emirates) and supported the Jumeirah brand in so many different ways that the relationship extends beyond the mere representation to actually living the brand,” Brown said. “To the point where having sampled the exhilarating rides at Wild Wadi Waterpark during the Dubai Desert Classic earlier this year, he invited all his golfing pro buddies to come and try it out the following evening!”
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