The less-is-more approach at The Masters is working for brands

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
December 02, 2020, 1:34 PM UTC

The Masters is unlike any other golf tournament, or any other major sporting event for that matter. There are only a handful of corporate sponsors, there are no logos on the course, and brands must follow extremely strict rules around promotion. 

But despite the light touch, YouGov BrandIndex data of the tournament’s three global sponsors – AT&T, Mercedes, and IBMshows Ad Awareness scores are significantly higher among Americans who are interested in the tournament, compared to the general public. 

Our data shows that during the tournament and the lead-up to the weekend, 46.7% of those interested in The Masters reported seeing an ad for AT&T in the previous two weeks of being asked, which is about 16% higher than the general US public. 

Data shows an even starker difference for the other two brands. Nearly one in five (18%) of those interested in the tournament reported seeing an ad for Mercedes, marking a 38% increase over the general population. As for IBM, one in ten (10%) saw an ad for the tech firm, a figure twice as high as the general public. 

Of course, the event isn’t entirely devoid of branding, but viewers have to be on the hunt. For example, in the top right corner of The Masters official website, the three brands share a space roughly 20 pixels in size. 

In this less-is-more approach, the trio of brands have other means to connect to the audience. The global sponsors can air television ads during the limited commercial space and brands serve up tournament content on social media feeds. 

These promising Ad Awareness figures come during a tough year. The Masters normally played in April to herald summer was played at the tail-end of the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Not only is The Masters proven to be an effective partnership for brands, but the world’s most exclusive golf event also attracts a lucrative audience. Among all major televised events (sporting or otherwise), it has one of the most well-heeled fan bases. YouGov data shows nearly a quarter (23%) of those interested in the tournament weekend reported a household income over $100,000. 

YouGov data also shows 6% of this audience is an owner/proprietor of a business, which is a great target demographic for all three global sponsors, but especially for IBM. 

Methodology: YouGov tracks thousands of brands every day. Ad Awareness scores are based on the question: “Which of the following brands have you seen an advertisement for in the past two weeks? Results are daily average between October 16 and November 16, 2020. Sample size for AT&T was 3,034 US adults and 524 adults interested in The Masters. Sample size for Mercedes was 2,208 US adults and 344 adults interested in The Masters. Sample size for IBM was 1,897 US adults and 315 adults interested in The Masters.