LPGA RENEWS PARTNERSHIPS WITH FLORIDA’S NATURAL, LANGUAGE TRAINING CENTER
By Michael Smith
Staff Writer, Sports Business Journal
The LPGA has struck a pair of official partner renewals with Florida’s Natural orange juice and Language Training Center, both of which are using the tour’s global brand to broaden their businesses.
In the LPGA pro-am last week, Florida’s Natural executives played golf with distributors of their orange juice in Thailand. This week in Singapore, Florida’s Natural will play with two major retailers.
It’s the kind of interaction that’s often hard to get, said Walt Lincer, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida’s Natural, and one of the major reasons the juice maker has extended its official partnership with the LPGA for two more years. Florida’s Natural entered golf two years ago as the title sponsor of the Futures Tour event in its hometown of Winter Haven, Fla., and still supports that tournament as well.
“It’s turned out to be a great way for us to build relationships,” Lincer said from Chonburi, Thailand, where he had just finished the pro-am. “We’ve been really pushing in this part of the world the last five years or so and we see the LPGA as a way to have some fun with clients and to have some serious discussions as well.”
Florida’s Natural, which works with marketing agency 22squared, Atlanta, and Tampa-based APC Agency for on-site activation, will sample its product at seven domestic and three international events, in addition to hospitality at those tournaments.
The LPGA also has agreed to two more years with Language Training Center, an Indianapolis-based business that works with the golfers to learn additional languages and foreign cultures. That relationship, which began last spring, has been especially important as the LPGA’s stable of golfers has diversified.
Financial terms for these deals were not available, but industry sources say that LPGA official status deals typically range from the mid-six figures into seven figures.
Only a few years ago, former Commissioner Carolyn Bivens was demanding that the LPGA’s foreign golfers learn English. The policy was quickly relaxed amid pushback from the players and heavy public criticism, but there remains an understanding that the golfers need to be able to communicate in English, while other golfers already proficient in English are learning languages native to Asian countries, where the LPGA is very popular.
Spaniard Beatriz Recari, for example, is learning Japanese, while several Americans are taking lessons in Korean. LTC also works with the players on cross-cultural training so that they’re more comfortable in social settings overseas.
“The players seem to want to do it, which is important,” said Jon Podany, the LPGA’s chief marketer.
The partnership provides players discounted rates for lessons, but they still have to pay out of pocket, which “makes them more committed,” Podany said. A 20-hour package, which might include everything from
vocabulary to accent reduction, goes for $1,000.
Martin George, president and founder of LTC, said he’ll have trainers at most of the LPGA’s domestic events to
work with the players. LTC, a $5 million small business that started in 1992, also conducts the LPGA’s cross-cultural sessions with rookies and veterans. Those group sessions are free to the players and are built into the marketing package between the LPGA and LTC.
“These players are their own company, so they see the benefit of being able to do things like translate their blogs into a different language,” George said. “And from a publicity standpoint, it’s been great for us. We’re using these experiences with the LPGA to have discussions with Major League Baseball teams, NBA teams and other professional athletes.”