How do you sign on with golf’s hottest player? Ask this lo­cal com­pany.

How a lo­cal com­pany got a deal with the hottest golfer

The Washington Post Sunday - - BUSINESS - BY THOMAS HEATH

The lineup of spon­sors on golf sen­sa­tion Jor­dan Spi­eth’s Web site reads like a cor­po­rate Who’s Who.

Un­der Ar­mour.

AT&T.

Titleist.

Rolex.

NetJets.

Per­fect Sense.

Per­fect Sense?

How did a Re­ston-based Web com­pany snag a spon­sor­ship with Spi­eth, who ran away with the Masters and is the PGA Tour’s lead­ing money win­ner go­ing into this week’s U.S. Open?

“It doesn’t mat­ter how big the com­pany is,” Spi­eth said in a phone in­ter­view. “It’s a right fit for our team. They were the right dig­i­tal part­ners and the ones who were with me from the be­gin­ning and took a chance on me.”

A Sports Busi­ness Daily poll ranked the 21-year-old with the All-Amer­i­can im­age as one of the most mar­ketable golfers in the world. And that was be­fore he won the Masters with a score that tied a record set by Tiger Woods.

“Com­pa­nies spend mil­lions of dol­lars, a lot of time and ef­fort and throw a lot of peo­ple at try­ing to find the next big name,” said sports mar­ket­ing ex­pert Bob Dorf­man of Baker Street Ad­ver­tis­ing in San Fran­cisco. Spi­eth is “prob­a­bly mak­ing a few mil­lion a year with Un­der Ar­mour. Af­ter the Masters, his rate card prob­a­bly went up 1,000 per­cent. Per­fect Sense did it for very lit­tle money and will reap the benefits for a very long time.”

Three more years, at least, to be ex­act.

Per­fect Sense would not say how much it is pay­ing Spi­eth, but the deal is be­lieved to be in the low six fig­ures.

Per­fect Sense builds and ser­vices Web sites, in­clud­ing Jor­dan Spi­eth’s. The firm’s ros­ter of clients in­cludes sev­eral well-known D.C.-area names: Mon­u­men­tal Sports & En­ter­tain­ment, Politico, Han­ley Wood, U.S. News & World Re­port, Billy Casper Golf, Travel Chan­nel, Spe­cial Olympics, SnagFilms and Indiewire.

Out­side Wash­ing­ton, the com­pany’s clients in­clude big brands such as HGTV and the Food Net­work, which are part of Scripps Net­works In­ter­ac­tive. Coca-Cola, Cisco and Wal-Mart are clients, too.

Per­fect Sense co-founder David Gang said he was look­ing for a sports en­dorse­ment not only to rep­re­sent the com­pany’s char­i­ta­ble in­cli­na­tion, but also to add pizazz to its mix and to check a box on his bucket list.

“I al­ways dreamed I would some­day have the op­por­tu­nity to spon­sor an ath­lete that fun­da­men­tally changed a sport,” said Gang, 58, an AOL vet­eran well known in Wash­ing­ton’s tech com­mu­nity.

Gang first met Spi­eth dur­ing an event hosted by BET co-founder Sheila John­son at the 2012 AT&T Na­tional held at Con­gres­sional Coun­try Club. Spi­eth had just fin­ished his fresh­man year at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas and had just turned pro.

“I didn’t know who Jor­dan Spi­eth was at the time,” Gang re­called. “I just walked over and in­tro­duced my­self to Jor­dan and his fa­ther.”

Gang said he liked the way Spi­eth con­ducted him­self. He later learned he had an­other con­nec­tion to the ath­lete — Spi­eth has a spe­cial-needs sis­ter; Gang’s son has Down syn­drome.

A year later, back at Con­gres­sional, Gang called Spi­eth’s agent, Jay Danzi, and asked if they could “do some things to­gether.”

“He says, ‘Come over to the Mar­riott Bethesda on Democ­racy Drive,’ ” Gang said. The next morn­ing, Gang and his son, Matthew, met Spi­eth and Danzi.

They talked about Per­fect Sense’s in­volve­ment in the Spe­cial Olympics, help­ing wounded vet­er­ans and giv­ing back to char­ity.

“He came off just the op­po­site of cocky. He was very re­served,” Spi­eth said of Gang. “That was easy for me to trust.”

Spi­eth said he also found Gang and his co-founder, Lisa Mal­mud, to be “good, gen­uine peo­ple. But I also felt they had a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The group agreed to talk about a po­ten­tial deal, but a cou­ple weeks later Spi­eth won a tour­na­ment, send­ing Gang into parox­ysms.

“I thought, ‘ Oh my God, I am go­ing to get priced out,’ ” Gang said.

Spi­eth didn’t back out, and ne­go­ti­a­tions soon got un­der­way.

They talked about putting the Per­fect Sense logo on Spi­eth’s hat. Un­der Ar­mour nixed that.

They talked about adding the name to his golf bag. Some­one else held those rights.

Spi­eth and Per­fect Sense even­tu­ally made a deal, which is now in the sec­ond of five years. The agree­ment in­cludes Per­fect Sense hav­ing Spi­eth ex­clu­sively for ad­ver­tis­ing or pro­mo­tion on Web sites and apps built by Gang’s Brightspot dig­i­tal plat­form. Per­fect Sense also built and man­ages Spi­eth’s Web site. Spi­eth is com­mit­ted to golf­ing ap­pear­ances with Per­fect Sense clients.

Gang also earned a seat on the board of Spi­eth’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion. Last year, when Spi­eth played in a tour­na­ment at Con­gres­sional Coun­try Club, he stayed at the es­tate of Per­fect Sense ad­viser Raul Fer­nan­dez, which is near the club.

Spi­eth is co-host­ing the fourth an­nual Per­fect Sense Pro-Am, a sig­na­ture event for the First Tee, a non­profit that helps kids learn about golf and life. The Per­fect Sense Pro-Am has ex­panded into a week-long ex­pe­ri­ence that will in­clude a ca­reer day at Per­fect Sense Dig­i­tal; a tour of the U.S. Capitol; a visit to the city’s mu­se­ums, mon­u­ments and memo­ri­als; and a be­hind-the-scenes look at the D.C. golf event, now called the Quicken Loans Na­tional. The pro-am also in­cludes par­tic­i­pants from Spe­cial Olympics and Troops First, a foun­da­tion that sup­ports wounded vet­er­ans.

Danzi, Spi­eth’s agent, de­clined to dis­cuss the terms of the pact with Per­fect Sense.

“We are clearly happy with the part­ner­ship and we look for­ward to be­ing with them for years,” Danzi said.

Dorf­man said Per­fect Sense got a good deal.

“Any deal Spi­eth is go­ing to sign now is go­ing to start at seven fig­ures and a multi-year deal,” he said. “The trick for Per­fect Sense is now to fig­ure out how they can re­ally play off the en­dorse­ment and get as much at­ten­tion as pos­si­ble.”

thomas.heath@wash­post.com

SAM GREEN­WOOD/GETTY IMAGES

“It doesn’t mat­ter how big the com­pany is,” Jor­dan Spi­eth said in a phone in­ter­view. “It’s a right fit for our team.”

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