Odyssey Golf Drives Leads With Online Club

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Putter manufacturer Odyssey Golf is taking a swing at providing golfers interesting content in order to build brand affinity and its database.

Matthews Evans Albertazzi, Odyssey Golf's agency of record, helped start "The Grind," a Web site that follows golfers Ben Bates, Craig Kanada and Per-Ulrik Johansson on the 2006 PGA Tour.

"There are a lot of guys out there who think, 'If I just quit my day job, I could be a pro golfer,'" said Rob Arluna, director of brand management at Odyssey Golf. "We're trying to appeal to those guys."

The site at www.thegrind2006.com, particularly the video and multimedia sections, is popular with visitors. Other features include the three player blogs, a feedback section, e-mail list sign-up and the "Grind Guy" blog, the voice of a golf fan who speaks with players, caddies and other tour personalities.

"It's almost exclusively about content," said Jim Matthews, CEO of Matthews Evans, San Diego. "The whole idea was to separate selling putters from bonding with consumers and providing entertaining content."

Odyssey's presence on the site is limited to a "presented by" banner with a logo in the top right corner.

The Grind comes at the end of a yearlong project to revamp the brand that included a Web site redesign incorporating video golfing tips and an online store. This effort saw the unique users to the site nearly double in a year and the average page-view time rise from 4.5 minutes to 5.5 minutes.

Odyssey is the property of Callaway Golf, Carlsbad, CA. It seeks to carve out its brand identity and build a database of consumers who expressed interest in the Odyssey brand over the other Callaway properties.

The Grind has e-mail sign-up for updates of new product promotions and events on the PGA Tour. Subscribers will be added to the Odyssey corporate database. It has about 300,000 names.

Odyssey plans to run The Grind again for the 2007 PGA Tour and may add more players. Interactive and online marketing are an increasing part of the Odyssey budget, Mr. Arluna said.

"This is our first entrance into [a social networking type of site]," he said. "Within golf there is a huge presence of community groups and a lot of potential. More brand interaction online is the future and will be a core part of our marketing plan."

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