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 lineup of sponsors on golf sensation Jordan Spieth’s Web site reads like a corporate Who’s Who.
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.”
“It doesn’t matter how big the company is,” Jordan Spieth said in a phone interview. “It’s a right fit for our team.”