MMB Unveils TV, Print for Top-Flite

BOSTON Top-Flite, which markets its namesake brand and Ben Hogan, will take a two-pronged, $20 million approach to marketing in 2004, with Top-Flite balls getting the bulk of funding to support a return to tour player endorsement and a major boost in TV advertising.

Top-Flite plans to raise total ad spending for both brands to more than $13 million, with another $6 million for tour endorsement, demos, sampling and premium promotions. Top-Flite and Ben Hogan spent a combined $7.5 million on media Jan.-Oct. 2003, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

“Our goal is to regain the ball market share we’ve lost,” said Lou Tursi, Top-Flite executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service. “Top-Flite had a 25 percent-plus share,” and is now under 20 percent.

Six print themes begin to break this week, via indie McCarthy Mambro Bertino in Boston, and will run for 38 weeks in Sports Illustrated, 46 weeks in Golf World, and alternately in monthlies Golf and Golf Digest. One set will have an edgy theme: “Where they don’t play Top-Flite, they don’t play golf.”

“They are meant to be a ‘stopper,'” said Tursi. “We need the exposure [and] to push the envelope.” One shows a bat and text, “Like a bat out of hell.” Another features a dominatrix with text, “If you want a ball to behave the way it should . . . ” The “Where they don’t play” ads show criminals in a lineup, African tribesmen or Eskimos.

“I would really question using ethnic groups like that. Some people might be offended,” said a marketing director from another company. “As to the [dominatrix], what are they thinking?”

Five traditional TV spots, touting Infinity and Strata balls, begin airing Feb. 21, with heavy play on broadcast and cable tournaments through summer, along with daily ads on The Golf Channel through November and sponsored weekend reports from April to July on The Weather Channel. Tour players in the fold include Jim Furyk, Scott McCarron, J.J. Henry, Bernhard Langer, Lee Trevino and Hal Sutton.