Repackaging and rebranding are quite often tactics used by corporations and other groups to sell the sizzle without throwing a new steak on the barbie.
Newspapers, for example, will go through redesigns to offer a fresh, new look their readers or a company that sells sport drinks will funnel its product into new bottles with the expectation that consumers will do a happy dance, even if the contents are exactly the same on the inside.
In the case of the consumer facing or rebranding introduced yesterday by the Royal Canadian Golf – oops, Golf Canada – at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont., a coat of paint has been slapped on programs that have been around for years, topped off with a new logo.
Behind this new façade are the pillars that comprised the Royal Canadian Golf Association – there, I said it – such as Long Term Player Development, the national team program, CN Future Links, National Golf In Schools, Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Canadian Golf Foundation, among others.
The two professional championships – the RBC Canadian Open and CN Canadian Women’s Open – will also be run under the Golf Canada banner, along with all of the RCGA’s – oops, Golf Canada’s – national amateur championships.
Meanwhile, rules, handicapping, course rating, amateur status and corporate functions such as general meetings and annual reports will be carried out under the RCGA (don’t worry, it’s okay to say it here).
It isn’t that any of these programs particularly needed a makeover for all had merit, but the association behind the new brand needed a new look to cuddle up to the unwashed masses who looked upon it as a group that represented snooty private clubs and didn’t relate to public golfers.
In a country that crows about having the highest percentage of golfers per capita, the predecessor to Golf Canada wasn’t tapping into a potential gold mine and it was showing in the association ledger.
Funds from the $40-million sale of the Abbey to ClubLink Corporation over 10 years ago have been dwindling and proceeds from the Open, which not so long ago were funneled back into amateur programs, are now reinvested back into the tournament.
The reality is that Golf Canada/RCGA is bleeding financially. That’s why Golf Canada is more about funding than it is about branding.
“As the National Sport Organization for golf in Canada, we are committed to the growing excellence and participation in the sport, but that mandate comes with a cost and we need the support of golfers to make it happen,” said Golf Canada executive director Scott Simmons.
Golf Canada’s first priority will be to fund its existing programs, but it seemed strange that it was talking about getting involved with the support of young professionals after a discussion paper was released this week by the Canadian Tour about bridging the gap between the time a player turns pro and gets to the major tours.
At this point, that’s in the discussion stages, so it isn’t clear what resources from Golf Canada, the Canadian PGA or the Canadian Tour will be required for such a program. At this point, the discussion also centres solely around men’s golf, with no mention of the women’s game. We’ll see what happens.
To raise funds, Golf Canada is hoping that golf courses will join in the fun and sell Golf Canada merchandise and promote the membership initiative to members/clients.
To sweeten the pot for potential members, Golf Canada has brought on board some corporate heavyweights in RBC Insurance, Research In Motion, itravel2000, Aeroplan and International Hotels Group to offer treats as incentives, although I’m not sure if those goodies will be enough to lure the masses in this age of loyalty programs.
Three levels of membership can be purchased online, we were informed at a press conference in which the media was asked to get the Golf Canada message out with a good-for-the-game attitude that called on newspapers/websites to divert readers to a website operated by a rival, the Globe and Mail.
I wonder if the Globe and Mail is handling that website for the good of the game, or whether the marketing company that worked on the Golf Canada branding did it gratis for the good of the game. Oh well, for the good of the game, the website is www.golfcanada.ca.
There will be some consumers/courses who buy into the good-for-the-game messages, others who don’t buy it at all and still more who are just apathetic and want to play golf. How many people comprise each group will be the burning question going forward.
The Golf Canada crowd looked very informal and relaxed at Thursday’s press conference when they talked about beginning a new journey, but it remains to be seen how many potholes are ahead as the newly-painted organization drives into uncharted territory.
COUPLES HEADS TO MONTREAL: The red-hot Fred Couples, fresh off an impressive performance at the Masters, has confirmed that he will play in the Montreal Championship, the new Champions Tour event being played in early July.