ORLANDO – For dramatic reasons, it’s understandable that they would want to keep the identity secret, even though it had been revealed who was about to introduced as Cobra’s newest global brand ambassador in stories such as this one that appeared on GNN a couple of days earlier.
So, it came as no surprise to most in the audience at the PGA Forum that Greg Norman’s name was emblazoned on the golf bag put beside that of Canadian Graham DeLaet at the PGA Merchandise Show on Wednesday.
The Shark reiterated a message he’d delivered when the announcement was first made. “It’s about bloody time,” he said with a grin referring to his previous stint with the brand, including time as an investor in the company, beginning in 1988.
Sitting on the board, having a strong presence on the research and development side and watching the brand expand its reach into golf was an unforgettable time in his life, according to Norman.
“All of a sudden now, we’ve broadened our base from being kind of like golf for the really good players, we made it golf for everybody,” he said.
“It allowed me to apply my golfing skills, my research and development skills to make golf clubs and understand marketing,” said Norman.
Bob Philion, president of Cobra Puma Golf, says the return of the Shark has several intriguing aspects for the company.
“We got re-engaged together at the mid-part of last year and it’s a great opportunity to get back into association with an icon and a legend in the sport and someone who runs very deep from a business perspective in terms of the opportunities for us to develop our business,” said Philion.
“At the end of the day, Greg’s super savvy in terms of business and has a great product eye as well and so, there are a lot of things, I think, behind the scenes that we’ll get from our partnership outside of just the world visibility that he brings to the Cobra brand,” he said.
“First and foremost, the product side of it. He’s super passionate about the product and the R&D component of our business, but he also understands the sales and marketing and kind of go-to-market approach to our business,” added Philion.
“I think one of the reasons that he’s here is because of that history with Cobra. I think a lot of consumers maybe don’t even feel like he ever left because they associate so strongly that connection of Cobra to Greg Norman,” he said.
“At the end of the day, he’s just really passionate about the brand. He feels like he built Cobra. Indeed, he did in a lot of ways,” said Philion.
The guy who Norman’s golf bag was placed next to on stage at the PGA Forum may also represent a multi-dimensional signing, according to Philion.
You can read about Graham DeLaet, the rising Canadian star on the PGA Tour, signing with Puma Golf here.
“I think it’s in line with our business development, so we’re adding people as our business grows and Canada is one of our most important markets,” said Philion.
“The choice of Graham was pretty easy because he kind of fit our DNA of the world-class performer mixed with a style and an attitude and a swagger that sets him apart,” he added.
“Obviously, it’s a great chance to associate with someone like Graham and to help us out and introduce really Puma Golf to new consumers,” said Philion, adding that DeLaet came to Carlsbad, Calif., to take a look at the line late in 2013.
“The (golfers) that we do have, we put to work. We get their feedback to the products and we quickly showed him the line and got his thoughts and feedback and put outfits together of what he wants to wear and he’s going to help us also develop product in the future,” said Philion.
In the cases of both Norman and DeLaet, the message is all about enjoying the game and Philion agrees that many companies are picking up on that.
“For sure, there’s momentum behind the whole game enjoyment message, which I think is a good thing for the industry,” he said.
“As an industry, we have to be more inclusive, more inviting to people to join the sport, for people that are in the sport, make it more engaging and more fun,” said Philion.
“I like to think that we’re the company with the brands that connects the dots for game enjoyment better than anyone, whether it’s product, a marketing message, our players, even our employees and our culture are more wrapped around game enjoyment,” he said.
“There definitely is some momentum and a tailwind behind that whole movement,” said Philion.
Successfully convey that message and you’ve got a winner, he believes.
“We had a good 2013,” said Philion.
“We grew double digits in a marketplace that really struggled. It’s a challenging marketplace out there and, in fact, we’ve more than doubled our business since the acquisition (of Cobra by Puma) back in 2010,” he said.
“We are on the move,” said Philion.
“I think we’re the fastest-growing company in golf. In 2013, it was great, particularly from a metal standpoint with AMP Cell,” he said.
“I think, two things, one is our adjustable loft technology or MyFly was validated by consumers, so we’re advancing that this year with MyFly 8 which is personalized, of course, from a loft standpoint, as well as personalization from a style standpoint,” he added.
“Last year, we were the first to bring out colour choice in the AMP Cell, so we’re adding on to that with the BiO Cell this year – MyFly 8 from a loft standpoint and then five fresh colours from a colour standpoint on the BiO Cell and BiO Cell Plus,” said Philion.
Technology and style will also be used to promote Puma apparel going forward, according to Philion.
“Again, we’re broadening the demographics for Puma Golf. so we’re introducing it to more players and it’s still at the core a sport lifestyle message,” he said.
“It is strong technology and performance fused with style and we try to be an industry leader in terms of the colours and the graphics that we bring to the marketplace,” said Philion.
“At the end of the day, it’s our marketing message – look better, feel better, play better,” he said.