Even golf — that centuries-old Scottish sport stereotyped as rich old white guys puttering around in goofy outfits — has hopped aboard the social media train.
At the Northern Trust Open this week, golfers sponsored by the TaylorMade brand are sporting hats emblazoned with the Twitter hashtag #driverlove. The hashtag references TaylorMade’s larger campaign that plays off the special connection that some players feel with their clubs. It appears to be the first time a hashtag or explicit social media reference has appeared on PGA Tour golfers or playing surfaces.
While other sports have added interesting social media twists to their players and fields, golf is a game deeply rooted in tradition and not necessarily eager to humor cutting-edge fashion trends and tech fads. But that leaves an opening for brands willing to innovate, according to TaylorMade’s chief marketing officer, Bob Maggiore.
“For our sport as whole, the social media space has really been a slow-moving river,” Maggiore told Mashable. “So it’s interesting for us, because we’ve kind of given up on doing certain things the old way. We like to get out in front and try different things.”
TaylorMade is among golf’s most prominent brands, and Maggiore said the company had a record setting year financially in 2011. He said the hashtag plan was hatched in December, and has already sparked a modest “cult following” among golfers and fans after less than two days of practice rounds and pro-am play at the Northern Trust. (The first round officially tees off Thursday morning.)
The front of the hat features a simple heart design, and the #driverlove hashtag is emblazoned on the side of the cap, where Maggiore said a pedestrian company logo would usually appear. According to Maggiore, the hashtagged hat is an example of how social media allows TaylorMade to market in more abstract — but possibly more effective — ways.
“Versus just directing people to these brand homes, we’re able to get people engaged with these bigger, great ideas, like here that it’s okay to love your golf equipment,” he said. “The hashtag has been really powerful in our TV spots, but once we activate it with live athletes it’s going to be that much more powerful.”