Analyst: Burns & Wilcox gets $720K in brand exposure value with PGA champs

By Bill Shea of Crain’s Business Detroit
Burns & Wilcox two years ago launched a brand marketing campaign to elevate its profile via sports marketing investments, and its bet on a pair of PGA Tour golfers paid off handsomely when they finished 1-2 at The Players Championship on May 13.

The Farmington Hills-based wholesale insurance broker and underwriting manager hasn’t disclosed what it paid to put its logo on Webb Simpson, the tournament’s winner, and runner-up Jimmy Walker, but the payoff in terms of media exposure value over a few hours that Sunday was significant, by one brand value analysis firm’s estimate.

“Overall, we put the in-broadcast value for Burns & Wilcox during the final round Sunday at $720,630 of exposure value, based on more than 16 minutes of air time,” said Eric Wright, president and executive director of research at Ann Arbor-based Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., via email.

That total is what Burns & Wilcox would have paid via TV commercials or other marketing to get the same exposure its logo did during the golf tournament, one of the premier events on The PGA Tour.
Simpson, 32, now a five-time PGA Tour winner, began wearing the Burns & Wilcox logo on his shirt in January 2017 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, and the firm extended his deal a few months later. The caddies for both golfers also wear the logo, and it’s on Simpson’s golf bag and towel.

That media value estimate for the brand’s exposure breaks down as more than $570,000 for the Burns & Wilcox logo on Simpson’s shirt, another $147,000 for the logo on the caddy’s hat, and about $2,400 from the marque showing up on his golf bag.

Joyce Julius measures how many times and for how long the logo was seen, frame by frame, from the broadcast.

“Exposure value is calculated by measuring the on-screen time for the brand, and comparing the time to the cost of a commercial during the broadcast,” Wright said “We then also discount the exposure by taking into consideration the size of the identity in relation to the screen, positioning on the screen, brand clutter, and any integration of the brand into the action taking place. These factors are digitally measured during each frame of the telecast.”

Walker, who wears the logo on his shirt, accounted for 15 seconds and $6,240 of the overall total.
While the details of how much Burns & Wilcox is spending to sponsor the golfers weren’t disclosed, it likely got a big chunk of that back in just one tournament.

PGA Tour player sponsorship deals vary wildly because of their terms, industry insiders say.
“I can say that to be on a hat and a shirt for a player in the top 20, it would cost at least $250,000. Keep in mind that each of these sponsorships includes things like player appearances as well as commercial opportunities,” said Mike Dietz, president and director of Farmington Hills-based Dietz Sports & Entertainment. His firm has helped Burns & Wilcox with managing hospitality events, but he said he has no knowledge of the company’s deals with Simpson and Walker.

Raising the Burns & Wilcox profile is the chief objective of its sports marketing strategy, and sponsoring winning pro golfers is a primary tactic. The firm’s clients watch golf.

“It’s brand awareness for the right audience, which pays attention to golf. It’s the audience that makes decisions for insurance. That’s very important to us. People always like doing business with a winner, a champion,” said Alan Jay Kaufman, chairman, president and CEO of H.W. Kaufman Group and Burns & Wilcox. “The high visibility, you can’t put a price tag on that. It’s been very exciting. It heightens the brand. It’s one of our goals. It puts us in a forefront in our business.”

Burns & Wilcox gets more than brand awareness out of its sports deals, which also include its logo at Little Caesars Arena’s center ice and a sponsorship contract with Red Wings player Justin Abdelkader.
Job applications spike when its sponsored golfers perform well, Kaufman said. The company has more than 60 offices in the U.S., Canada, and United Kingdom with more than 2,000 employees.
The company’s staffers also enjoy watching “their” golfers play well, Kaufman added, meaning the sponsorship deals offer an additional measure of value.

“It brings people together,” he said. “It’s exciting for us.”