Augusta National masters art of minimal sponsorship

Wed Apr 6, 2016 12:10pm EDT
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By Rick Horrow

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Sports sponsorship deals, even multi-million dollar ones, follow a pretty basic process. This applies nearly everywhere, but not at the Masters golf tournament.

In most corners of the world, a property and a brand get together in a conference room. The property tells the brand how much money it will require to attach the brand's name to a team, building or event.

Negotiations follow concerning the deal's duration and payment schedule, before marketing agency reps and lawyers handle the fine print. Hands are shaken and an announcement is made.

But at Augusta National Golf Club, the permanent home of the Masters, business is conducted quite differently – and almost all of it is shrouded in secrecy.

For Masters chairman Billy Payne and Augusta National's leadership, less has always been more when it comes to attaching sponsors to one of one sport's prestige properties.

At virtually every other golf tournament on the planet, an abundance of sponsors is considered a positive – there is always room for another logo somewhere on the course.

At the Masters, which this week celebrates its 80th edition, sponsors are limited to five: global sponsors AT&T, IBM, and Mercedes-Benz, and international partners UPS and Rolex.

All five are estimated to pay upwards of $6 million annually to have zero signage in view on property, share a combined four minutes of ads per broadcast hour, and follow extremely stringent, narrow rules about how their association with the world's most exclusive golf tournament can be promoted.   Continued...

Apr 6, 2016; Augusta, GA, USA; Liam Pasternak , age 9 of New Jersey , shows off his haircut with the Masters logo during a practice round prior to the 2016 The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports