Dixon Schwabl has worked with the Heritage Classic Foundation since 2009, helping promote and sell tickets for the RBC Heritage golf tournament in South Carolina.
The RBC Heritage set a record for ticket sales in 2016. For 2017, organizers wanted to increase sales by another 4.5%.
After all, as soon as you set a record, it’s time to break it, right?
The overall creative approach was designed to communicate both the tournament’s fun atmosphere and the thrilling opportunity to watch professional-level golfers.
From the get-go, we knew an integrated approach would create the strongest foundation for the Heritage golf tournament. DS developed a seamless multi-tactic campaign: creative theming, PR, paid media (digital and traditional) and email (segmented by customer). All bolstered by a new website launched in 2016.
We also recommended leading with a six-week holiday campaign to take advantage of the giving season, then following it up in the spring with a 12-week campaign.
A big push for 2017 was digital media. We emphasized pre-roll, streaming radio, SEM and remarketing to better target their prospects. All of the web-based initiatives were designed to target prospects by web visits and a segmented email database to assure we were reaching the most likely ticket buyers.
In addition, new on-course signage was developed to enhance the overall fan experience. Tied to the existing Plaid Nation theme, the signage included new pole banners, a player bridge at the main entrance, tree wraps and a scaffold structure at the harbor—next to the signature 18th hole.
This new visual environment would set the tone for the tournament and get fans pumped to encounter something very special. (And fun!)
The big challenge was making sure it all would work for future tournaments. We solved this by designing modular panels that could be easily swapped out for the 50th anniversary tournament and subsequent years.
For the campaign’s PR component, we conceived a series of tactics to be strategically executed throughout the year. These programs generated brand awareness, garnered positive third-party endorsement, elevated tournament buzz and drove ticket sales.
Kicking off the campaign was the Charity Tour featuring Charities Chairman Stan Smith, a leading community charity influencer. The Charity Tour highlighted the $35 million the Heritage had contributed to local nonprofit organizations and also featured a media tour with the tournament director and an Easter Egg Roll for fans.
We again surpassed the RBC Heritage’s goal for ticket sales, beating their target to achieve a 4.75% increase over 2016 sales. (Another record broken!) The PR efforts secured more than 6 billion impressions and nearly $75 million in earned publicity.
Since DS began managing the Heritage’s entire social media effort, ticket sales directly attributed to social media have grown dramatically. In total, web and social media efforts generated 304,786 web sessions, 22% above the goal. And our email segmentation efforts grew email revenue by 134.11%.
Moreover, the Heritage has been consistently ranked as one of the best social media accounts on the PGA TOUR (#13 for Facebook and Instagram). In fact, our social media efforts (specifically our Plaid Nation mirror) have been held up as a best practice by the PGA TOUR.
Yet another measure of success: DS was invited to join the annual long-range planning meeting with the board of trustees.
After 2017’s success, we turned our attention to 2018’s 50th RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. The theme? Cheers to 50 Years.