Seeing an opportunity to reach the more casual golf fan and significantly increase its unpaid media exposure, the Columbus, Ohio-based company created Team Nationwide. This group of golfers, including recent PGA Tour victor Boo Weekley, are graduates of the 2005 Nationwide Tour.
By visiting the Team Nationwide Web site, fans can view player bios, watch videos and enter contests. Nationwide marketing executives say the Web site allows fans to follow up-and-coming players. It also helps Nationwide establish early rapport with golfers such as Zach Johnson, Camilo Villegas and Weekley, who recently sunk a victory at Verizon Heritage.
John Aman, Nationwide brand management officer, says the desire is to keep building until awareness and favorability show signs of reaching a plateau. Although he wouldn't disclose specific numbers, he said the insurer gains three times what it spends until those numbers begin to level off.
Golf and a deal with NASCAR track operator Speedway Motor Sports Inc. represents the insurer's sports sponsorships. At each of six tracks during the NASCAR race season, Nationwide aims to improve the fan experience--remember that Nationwide "is on your side." At those tracks, Nationwide sponsors fan transportation, directional signage and pit stops, essentially large covered spaces where fans can sit and relax and have something to drink or eat.
By having both NASCAR and golf sponsorships, Nationwide covers a large swath of potential customers with varied interests, he says.