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Caddy Returns To PGA Golf

Luxury maker betting it can get into the swing of things.

by on Nov.30, 2010

Buick is out, but Caddy's in as a title PGA sponsor.

Cadillac will make its return as a high-profile sponsor of professional golf, next year, and aims to bring a PGA tournament event back to Detroit, the maker announced.

The move underscores a broader strategy by General Motors to resume its long-time role as a major sponsor of high-visibility sporting events, something GM had to pare down and eventually abandon in the years leading up to last year’s bankruptcy.

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Caddy will become the title sponsor of the Cadillac Championship, which will be played at the TPC Blue Monster, the challenging Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Doral, Florida.  Caddy also will become an umbrella sponsor of the World Golf Championships.

“As a global series, it provides us with an ideal marketing partnership for Cadillac to efficiently and effectively reach our target audience,” said Cadillac’s Vice President of Marketing Don Butler. “We could not think of a more fitting way to bring golf back to Cadillac.”

Not yet certain is whether the maker will be able to sway the PGA Tour to return to the Detroit area, though the sport’s commissioner Tim Finchem confirmed he is looking at several possible locations.

“We…look forward to exploring opportunities with Cadillac to bring PGA TOUR tournament golf back to Detroit,” Finchem said.

The golf tie-up reflects a series of shifts in strategy at GM, notably the decision to use the sport to help promote Cadillac, rather than Buick.  The latter brand had a five-decade alliance with the PGA, and routinely hosted the Buick Open, in Grand Blanc, Michigan, until 2009.  But Joel Ewanick, GM’s new marketing czar, believes Cadillac is a better fit, as the automaker’s premium brand, with a sport long associated with wealth.

The push to bring the PGA back to Michigan also reflects promises by both Ewanick and new GM CEO Dan Akerson to use the maker’s money and muscle to help the troubled Detroit region.

Though the new Cadillac tie-up with the World Golf Championship officially runs only through 2016, both Finchem and Butler stressed the partnership will likely continue beyond then.

Golf wasn’t the only thing GM walked away from as its finances collapsed.  And now, under Ewanick, it is studying ways to get back into high-profile events, such as motor sports.  The Chevrolet brand plans a return to the IndyCar racing series in 2012 by teaming up with one of the most successful names in racing, Roger Penske.

“It’s so much more than racing,” suggested GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens, acknowledging the way victory on the track can influence fans’ purchase decisions – often summed up in the adage, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

(For more on the Chevy IndyCar program with Roger Penske, who has won four Indy 500s with Chevrolet-powered cars, Click Here.)

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