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Fore: Where Brands Are Finding Value at this Year’s Masters Tourney
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Fore: Where Brands Are Finding Value at this Year’s Masters Tourney

The quest for the coveted green jacket is on, as the best golfers from around the world descend upon Augusta, Ga., this week to compete for top honors in one of the sport’s most prestigious events. But it’s not just the players vying for exposure during the historic tourney: companies are eager to cash in as well, but the brand stage at the Masters is much different from that of most other premier sporting events.

Much like Wimbledon, where tradition takes center stage and is celebrated as a core value, the Masters tournament is relatively free from sponsorship. Nevertheless, it does still deliver success for the sponsoring brands that do appear, largely because of the minimal on-screen competition.

“The Masters is a perfect example of the need to look beyond brand exposure to understand how sponsorship value is derived,” said Glenn Lovett, Co-Managing Director, Nielsen Sports. “And given that the distribution and consumption of media is changing rapidly, so is the value equation to measure it.”

In looking at last year’s tournament, the biggest challenge brands faced was standing out. That’s because the Masters brand itself accounted for almost half (48%) of the total media value generated on TV.

Despite the heightened challenge to gain exposure at the Masters, sponsors do find ways to shine, largely through their affiliation with the players.

As with any competition, however, the Masters is about the players, and golf fans from around the globe tune in to see their favorite pros battle the odds and the elements in the hope of claiming victory. Last year, English golfer Danny Willett claimed his first major championship when he took victory at the Masters following the collapse of Jordan Spieth, who led by five strokes heading into the back nine of the final round of play.

Despite Willett’s lack of a major win heading into Augusta last year, the Englishman’s success paid off handsomely for his sponsors in the end, evidence of the huge value a winning team can generate. In fact, more than 71% of the total media value generated for Willett’s sponsors came from his four days at the Masters: 55% came from his shirt; 38% came from his hat; 4% came from his equipment bad; and 2% came from his eyewear.

And needless to say, the fall of Spieth in the tournament’s final round and the rise of Willett had golf fans glued to their screens and their thumbs quickly reacting across social media. In fact, the most-Tweeted minute of the final round came at 5:44 p.m. as Spieth’s quest for a win ended with a collapse on the 12th hole. In those mere 60 seconds, onlookers sent 5,600 Tweets.

Aside from the intense Tweeting during those final nine holes, however, the entire Masters, like many high-profile sports events, proved ripe for heavy social interaction among an engaged fan base. Over the four-day tournament, 335,800 unique authors in the U.S. sent 721,400 Tweets about the 2016 Masters tournament, and the top most-mentioned golfers during the final round were Spieth (@JordanSpieth), Willett (@Danny_Willett), Louis Oosthuizen (@Louis57TM), Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) and Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA).

As last year’s action proved, anything can happen in Augusta—and at any time. And that means there’s plenty of opportunity for brands to aim for the greens and engage with a socially involved fan base.