06/14/2013 01:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Digital Innovators: Partnerships With Startups Attract Tech-Savvy Golfers Says Callaway SVP

The golf industry as a whole isn't often considered innovative or quick to change. Callaway is one of the major industry players that's been around for decades and has been working to modernize this perception of golf, their products and the brand story with consumers in new and exciting ways.

As part of the series on digital innovators, I spoke with Callaway SVP of Marketing, Harry Arnett on what's happening from a digital standpoint with the brand and the golf market as a whole.


(Credit: Callaway)

The Callaway brand, which is best known for its selection of premium golf equipment and accessories for golfers of all levels, suffered in recent years to keep pace with the changing consumer landscape. Over the last year, Arnett and his team have worked to bring a whole new Callaway marketing message to the forefront of the company.

Brian: How is Callaway using partnerships to modernize the brand?

Harry: "Before in the old influencer model, the consumer didn't really fit in until the end of the chain. What we've been activating and exploring is when the consumer sits in the middle of the influence model and is part of a more three dimensional experience with the brand. The people that are directing the most consumer communication today are more tech savvy and aware of innovations happening in the digital space. We've been working with companies that exist in the technology space like Uber, that can help with this new speed of communication as well as provide a utility to golfers that enhances their experience. We already love the Uber service and thought it'd be a good match for attendees of the U.S. Open in Philadelphia. We are constantly thinking hard and trying to innovate in ways that are unexpected and will ultimately enhance a golfer's experience everywhere. We'd like these partnerships to encourage enjoyment with our brand and with the game of golf."

Callaway is currently partnering with the popular startup Uber for the U.S. Open June 13th through June 16th. Uber is an app that allows users to quickly and easily hail chauffeured black car rides, but in this case the service will connect golf fans at the Open with free rides from Callaway branded SUV's. This partnership is a way for Callaway to further connect with more digital savvy fans and influencers deeper than just through their products, bringing a more engaging experience to one of golf's biggest events.

Brian: What are three ways Callaway is continuing to innovate in the digital space?

Harry: "We are continually encouraging deeper partnerships with various social engaged companies like what we've done with both Uber and LinkedIn recently. Secondly, continuing to stay ahead with our content marketing, using native content to tell our story. Lastly, the way we are organizing and involving our marketing approach is much more like a media company. We've said for the last year that we'll continue to act more like a newsroom or a morning show where we try to be topical and create content around our product and golfer stories every single day. The pace, consistency and frequency of this communication far surpasses what Callaway has ever done and what anyone in our industry is doing. We are relying on the consumers apetite for getting content on a hourly basis. Whether that's the way we organize are quick and non-archival social communications like Twitter and Facebook to more traditional channels like commercials and above the line content."

Brian: Are golfers a digitally savvy demographic?

Harry: "Golfers are definitely an older demographic, but the golfers we are focused on don't make up a giant piece of the pie still. The effectiveness of these more tech savvy golfers is a lot more potent than other groups of golfers. It's amazing how quickly the consumer model is involving and what influences a consumer can have for the future."

Brian: Lastly, can you identify an emerging digital trend affecting the golf industry?

Harry: "It's not even emerging, it's here. The interface of digital utility and productivity with previously disconnected golf equipment, devices and activities with the goal of enhancing the golf experience. It's the next frontier. Whether it's Nike devices like the FuelBand or smaller things like Fitbit. There's a new reliance on data to maximize a golfer's performance and reach new potentials, which is something that all of us in the industry are looking at."

Stay tuned for more interviews with distinguished thought leaders paving the way for innovation. Follow my column on Digital Innovators or with the #digitalinnovators hashtag on Twitter.