CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - At golf rollout, big balls mean press

Client: Fotoball (San Diego)

PR Team: Formula PR, Sports & Entertainment Division, (Los Angeles)

Campaign: PGA Merchandise Show

Time Frame: January 1-29, 2001

Budget: Less than dollars 20,000

Rawlings, the 113-year-old sporting-goods maker, had dropped its golf

equipment line due to low profits. But it recently found its way back

onto the green when Fotoball USA, a younger, speciality manufacturer

with no brand identity in golf, was awarded a 10-year license to

manufacture and distribute for the company.

Fotoball landed the license in mid-November, just two months shy of the

PGA Merchandise Show, the world's largest golf equipment exhibition,

held in Orlando, FL.


In early January, Formula PR was enlisted to tee off a publicity push at

the show. Dusting off and reintroducing the Rawlings brand was

newsworthy, but Fotoball needed something special to stand out among the

show's more than 1,000 exhibitors.

'The most important goal of appearing at the PGA show was to convey that

Rawlings Golf was returning to the marketplace,' says Matt Kovacs,

account supervisor at Formula.

The new Rawlings line, set to debut in retail outlets later this year,

targets middle-market golf enthusiasts by offering high-quality

equipment at affordable prices.

'At the PGA show, we wanted to make the statement that Rawlings is a

brand to be reckoned with,' says Josh Gold, assistant account executive

at Formula.

To stand out amid the swarm of show exhibitors, Fotoball knew it needed

a campaign with balls - giant balls, in fact - that people couldn't help

but gape at.


Prior to the show, Fotoball held a press conference, and Formula

performed media outreach and developed a press kit.

But the real hook came on January 25, the show's opening day, when

enormous golf balls were mounted atop two Volkswagen Bugs that then

circled the arena throughout the event. And as a kicker, one of the

giveaways was an oversized golf ball - about the size of a softball -

which turned out to be one of the show's more popular favors.

'We knew visitors were going to be flooded with a million different

products,' explains Kovacs. 'We did all the standard PR stuff, but we

wanted to show them something outside the box.'


At the show, which attracted some 55,000 attendees, Nike released a new

line of golf balls and Calloway debuted a dollars 1,000 driver. But for

the most part, according to Kovacs, who attended the event with Gold,

there were not many industry-shaking developments.

Consequently, Fotoball garnered significant media coverage of its

Rawlings equipment, including spots by Sporting Goods Business,

Brandweek, Chicagoland Golf, La Opinion, and several local

news stations.


'I don't know about before, but (Fotoball) believes in PR now,' says

Kovacs. The company plans to use it to augment a larger advertising

campaign for an upcoming retail launch.

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