What’s ‘Airtime That Can’t Be Bought’ Worth?

MacGregor’s Masters Champ: A TV Weekend of Product Placement
ATLANTA–Howard, Merrell & Partners of Raleigh, N.C., received a serendipitous–and gratis–broadcasting windfall April 10-11 when Jose Maria Olazabel won his second Masters golf tournament.
Olazabel, a touring pro who endorses MacGregor products, took home the coveted Masters green jacket less than a month after the agency broke its first major television campaign for the client’s golf clubs. All weekend on CBS, Olazabel wore a cap and used a golf bag emblazoned with MacGregor’s name.
“That was some great airtime, airtime that just can’t be bought,” said Steve Colford, HM&P’s director of communications. “He is [MacGregor’s] No. 1 guy . . . That was major.”
Exactly how major depends on who you ask. Mark Weiner, who monitors news coverage for Delahay Medialink in Norwalk, Conn., said, “This kind of exposure is different than advertising because it’s not controlled. But it can [be] even bigger . . . especially in the last two rounds, when you’re getting it for hours at a time. The other thing is that [Olazabel] comes as a third party imprimatur. . . there’s a different effect when he’s actually using the product.”
Weiner estimated the TV exposure was worth “millions” of dollars.
But Dick Matullo, who handles golf accounts at Austin Kelly in Atlanta, said, “It’s anybody’s guess what [coverage] like that is actually worth . . . It’s not what [people are] focusing on. It’s worth maybe 10 percent of a 60-second commercial.”
Jason McCullough, an account executive at Sponsorship Information Service in New York, agrees with Matullo. SIS videotapes and reviews the programs for a sponsor’s “clear exposure,” defined as “when 75 percent of a logo or brand name is clearly identifiable reading from left to right, for one full second or more.”
According to McCullough, “Over four days of coverage and approximately nine hours of broadcast time, the cap and golf bag [combined] received seven minutes and eight seconds of clear exposure. We also [consider] what type of source it is–a verbal mention has a better impression than a cap and bag.”
SIS placed the value at $62,000.