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Srixon Forgives but Doesn't Forget

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Kirkman Westlake Bowman Returns Zoeller to Commercial Course
ATLANTA--Professional golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, who lost an endorsement deal and took a lot of heat for ill-advised remarks about Tiger Woods at the Masters at Augusta National two years ago, has emerged as a spokesman for Srixon Sports USA's golf balls.
A print ad alludes to his politically incorrect 15 minutes of fame. The headline states: "Fuzzy kids us about our name. Like he should talk." The accompanying visual is a simple head shot of Zoeller with a Srixon golf ball lodged in his mouth.
The ad was created by Kirkman Westlake Bowman in Greenville, S.C.
Agency director Curt Westlake said that while the decision to use Zoeller was no accident, the creative concept was. "I wish we could say we planned it that way, but we can't," he said. "We were down in Florida, doing a photo shoot so we'd have a library of shots. We had this one idea of shooting him with a ball in his mouth. He thought it would be funny and agreed to do it."
The resulting picture, according to Westlake, "was more powerful than anything we had."
Srixon, which has marketed under its brand in the U.S. since 1997, did make balls for other firms. In an increasingly crowded field that is dominated by suppliers like Titleist and Top Flight, the company is playing with a much smaller budget. As Zoeller says in the ad: "You can play the best technology, or you can play the biggest name. You can't do both."
"We really didn't have a choice but to grab people by the lapels and whack them upside their heads with our message," Westlake said.
Zoeller was universally criticized for suggesting that Woods' choices for a players' dinner at Augusta National would include fried chicken and for using the word "boy" when referring to him. Woods, for those who have been living in a cave for the last three years, is African American. As a result, Zoeller lost his endorsement deal with Kmart.
"I think most of the golfing world has forgiven him," Westlake said. "When we went looking, there really weren't a whole lot of guys available, but he was."
The Srixon ad breaks this month in golf publications.