Ground Zero Takes ESPN Golfing

A day on the links may be something of a religious experience for devout golfers, but does that feeling resonate with viewers?

Ground Zero looks to find out as it breaks three TV spots promoting coverage of the PGA Tour on ESPN. The Marina del Rey, Calif., agency has worked for ESPN for years, but these are its first ads focusing on the tour, which runs each year from January through November. The tagline is, “Do you believe in golf?”

“We try to put our own mark on every property we have,” said ESPN advertising and marketing director Spence Kramer. “The PGA Tour on ESPN is different than the PGA Tour on any other network.”

Kramer said the ads aren’t really meant to have religious undertones. “It was more like, ‘Do you believe in the dogma of golf?’ ” he said. “Golf is such a big, spiritual part of one’s life.”

The ads are running on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic and ESPN News. The value of the media time—the equivalent of campaign spending—was not disclosed. Counting house ads, the Bristol, Conn.-based client ran $41.5 million worth of advertising last year, per Competitive Media Reporting.

Each 30-second spot shows amateur golfers throwing clubs after failing to hit out of sand traps, attempting to move balls they’ve hit into the woods and kicking over bags of clubs when putts fall short of the hole. After these foibles, a crow caws and an elderly greenkeeper appears with a pitchfork.

Ground Zero brand director Todd Gray said the crow represents “the conscience of every golfer.” The greenkeeper chastises the golfers with lines such as “Shame, shame, a soul is a high price to pay for a stroke,” then pulls out a handheld TV to show professional golfers making difficult shots.

“We just wanted to say that no matter how good a golfer you are or how seriously you take golf, there’s still an idealized, exceptional part of the game,” said Kramer.

The footage was culled from previous tours aired by ESPN, but may be replaced with footage from the current tour, Kramer said.