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UBS sponsorship features TPC’s 17th

By SCOTT HAMILTON
Business Writer

UBS’ relationship with the PGA Tour has gotten it noticed. Now it wants to be understood.

The international wealth management company, now in its third year as a presenting partner of the Players Championship along with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Jeld-Wen, has gone from gaining brand awareness to achieving brand familiarity. And it’s hoping a pair of exhibits displayed during the event – one in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and the other in New York City – goes a long way toward achieving that goal.

UBS constructed replicas of the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass at the tournament site and at Rockefeller Center. The displays of the famed island green are one-quarter scale, requiring a 33-yard chip shot from the tee to the center of the miniature green. It also includes an interactive area with plasma screens and kiosks that provide course and hole information as well as tournament updates.

The company also recruited PGA Tour Golf Academy instructors to staff the exhibits and help evaluate visitors’ swings. (Participants are able to go online later, at no charge, to view video of their instruction session.) UBS employees also were on hand to answer questions about the company.

This is the second year UBS set up a 17th-hole replica at Ponte Vedra Beach; more than 14,000 people visited the exhibit in 2006. UBS officials hope to eclipse that figure at both locations this time around.

“We realized people knew we were a sponsor of the tournament, but they didn’t know what we did as a business,” said Melanie Wright, UBS’ head of U.S. sponsorships. “It was a way for us to create a branded environment in which people could come in and have fun, but also learn more about us.”

UBS is involved with other sports globally, including additional golf relationships with events such as the UBS Hong Kong Open and the Evian Masters. It also provides associate-level sponsorship of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

But its involvement with the Players Championship is the focus of its U.S. sports marketing. .. In 2005, it signed with the Tour a long-term deal worth between $10 million to 12 million annually. Since then UBS has cracked Businessweek’s list of 100 best global brands for the first time (No. 47).

“People are recognizing the impact the branding efforts the firm has undergone,” Wright said.

UBS also is gaining some unique business-to-business opportunities out of the partnership. The company has expanded the Players sponsorship with what it calls the UBS Players Series – 13 private, one-day golf outings for UBS clients at TPC courses around the country. These outings call for the courses to be completely branded and provide an authentic, professional tournament feel. The series culminates with a national championship at TPC Sawgrass, comprising winners from each regional event.

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Scott Hamiton is a Golfweek buiness writer. To reach him e-mail [email protected]

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