Fresh from the season’s showpiece event - the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - and as the Race to Dubai hots up, the European Tour has refreshed its brand image to catch up with the tour’s growing reputation for innovation.
Experimenting with new, and potentially more engaging, formats of the game while simultaneously creating popular social media content has seen the Tour grow its reputation in recent years, and the launch of a new brand identity alongside a tech innovation drive has reinforced that growing image as an organisation embracing progress.
CEO, European Tour, Keith Pelley told Sport Industry Group, “Innovation is one of our key pillars and we are proud of the advancements we have made and continue to make across the European Tour. Our Chief Technology Officer, Michael Cole, works consistently to ensure we have the best technology available to enhance our fan experience and activations with our commercial partners. Home Ryder Cups are undoubtedly an opportunity showcase some of our best innovation and technological advances to a wider audience.”
“That was the case at Le Golf National in France when we had a truly connected golf course, 19 jumbotron screens – the most at any Ryder Cup – and the largest first tee grandstand in the history of the contest, alongside our (2018 Sport Industry) Award-winning social media content. We are looking to work with technology partners who will continue to drive forward our innovation for The Ryder Cup and throughout our tournaments.”
The Tour has recently announced an innovation contest as the sport looks to social media and, increasingly, wider technology to grow the game. Slow play has become a talking point, to which the European Tour has responded by using GPS tracking to combat the issue, while the rights holder’s Innovation Hub will increase the ways in which the Tour can make the sport as accessible as possible.
To coincide with the brand refresh, the Tour will also launch a new app and a revamped website to better reflect its status as a forward-looking organisation.
At the same time, though, Pelley says it’s important to balance that innovation with a pragmatic approach to pitching the sport within the market, taking into account golf’s position as a sport with a strong foothold among older demographics and business people.
“One out of six baby boomers are millionaires,” he said. “When you talk about C Suite, 50+ entrepreneurs, we own that demographic. Traditionally, the media world and the sports world has skewed away from that demographic and everyone says you have to go look at the 18-34. The reason that we have created the innovating platforms that we have, and the reason that we created Golf Sixes, was first to extend the reach and develop it, but we don’t want to lose sight of that other demographic, the 50+ C Suites, who do have an incredible amount of wealth.”
The Tour will look to balance the two sides as it looks to attract new partners after the brand refresh. The innovations such as Golf Sixes, the Shot Clock Masters and the Hero Challenge, coupled with an emphasis on social and digital media are a nod to extending the reach among younger people, but that proposition is modified for brands looking to that older audience.
“The traditional 72-hole tournament will always be at the core of what we do,” said Pelley. “But extending golf with new formats and supporting new initiatives is equally important to us as we look to diversify our audience. Whatever we do, our mantra is always that we need to be entertaining, but credible.
“We are golf’s global tour, operating 48 tournaments across 31 countries and five continents – and we are proud that our members are global players. We have a product which appeals to a global TV and digital audience and our players are the key component of that.”