JWT On The Links And In The ‘Burbs

Acquires Slazenger Golf’s Advertising, Suburban Lodges’ Media
By Jim Osterman
ATLANTA–J. Walter Thompson here made two account acquisitions last week, reeling in a pair of clients with large ambitions.
Joining the agency are Slazenger Golf of Greenville, S.C., and the media account of Atlanta-based Suburban Lodges. The former has budgeted $39 million over the next three years for promotion and advertising, nearly 70 percent ticketed for consumer media. The latter is expected to allocate $5 million for media buys in 1999.
Slazenger has handled advertising internally for its golf balls, apparel and gloves, which are sold exclusively through on-course pro shops.
“We’ve been the little engine that could,” said David Branon, president of Slazenger. “By ourselves we’ve been able to grow to $60 million. The next $60 million [will come] by getting consumers to ask for the product.”
According to Branon, his company’s products compete at the high end of the golfing spectrum. The decision to sell only through pro shops targets the audience Slazenger is seeking–serious, knowledgeable golfers with healthy disposable incomes willing to spend to get just the right equipment. That is opposed to the casual player, who is driven more by price than performance.
While the client will continue with its present distribution channels, JWT’s mission will be to generate enough awareness that golfers will know to ask for Slazenger products when they come through the pro shop on their way to the first tee.
Suburban Lodges approached J. Walter Thompson’s Atlanta office to handle media for its approximately 100 properties. The client competes in the extended-stay hotel segment, aimed at people remaining for a week or more.
“They had been doing their media in-house, but the company has grown to the point that it became more than they wanted to do,” said agency executive vice president and general manager Jeff White about the lodging client. “And they were at the place where they were spending enough to make it worth it to be with an agency.”
“We needed a partner with broad geographic media prowess and JWT’s regional buying system was what we were looking for,” said Peter Ordal, vice president of marketing for Suburban Lodges.