As part of overall cost cutting measures, General Motors plans to cease sponsoring the Buick Open golf tournament when the contract ends in 2010. This move highlights the auto manufacturer’s upcoming plans to change the way it markets cars. Specifically, new marketing chief Bob Lutz indicates the company will increase advertising and drop many sponsorships. While GM officials believe they will continue to sponsor some sporting events, every item is under review as the company restores its fiscal health.
Golfers played for a $5.1 million Buick Open prize a couple of weeks ago, an event which generated plenty of media and consumer attention. However, as the event organizers look for new sponsors, the golf industry also learned that Ginn Resorts will no longer fund either the LPGA’s Ginn Open or the Champions Tour Ginn Championship. According to chief executive Robert Gidel, Ginn Development, this real estate development concern has cut its spending on a number of golf-related marketing events because of economic conditions. Some of these cuts were made before contracts had expired and may significantly affect the LPGA.
Though Gidel indicated a willingness to perhaps sponsor an event at a time in the future, existing LPGA event organizers must scramble for funding now. These changes underscore the difficulty of justifying sports marketing sponsorships during the recession and how this new fiscal conservatism may continue for some time to come.[Sources: Krisher, Tom and Lage, Larry. “GM to end sponsorship of Buick Open, Chron.com, 7.28.09; Reynolds, Tim. Ginn pulls golf sponsorships, drops Kerr. Golfweek.com, 2009]