Round 2 of the adjustable heavyweight battle between TaylorMade-adidas and Nike Golf is underway.
The bell first rang on Monday in this blog, with news of a Nike ad campaign that claimed its testing proved the SQ Dymo Str8-Fit offers more distance than TaylorMade’s R9.
After some spirited debate here, the Nike ads began to appear across North America and Richard Sullivan, director of marketing for TaylorMade-adidas Golf Canada, has checked it all out.
“You don’t have to look very close to recognize it’s a frantic attempt by Nike to win over some of the major market share we’ve taken over the last two months, nor is it hard to notice the major flaws in their messaging,” said Sullivan.
“First, they haven’t provided specific data, including testing conditions or specific yardage to back up their claim,” he added.
“Second, there’s a line printed beneath their video that says each amateur participant in the test was given a $50 gift certificate. We’re not surprised that, given the payoff, they were able to find a handful of people who would say what Nike wanted to hear,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan also claimed the R9 is the most-used driver on the PGA Tour, the top-selling new driver in the United States and Japan and outselling the Str8-Fit by a four-to-one margin in Europe.
“We don’t have exact numbers in Canada, but based on a major golf retailer in Canada, (the R9) is the No. 1 new driver in the marketplace,” said Sullivan.
He went on to say that the R9’s numbers were far greater than the Str8-Fit for times played on the PGA Tour, top five and top 10s on the PGA Tour and combined usage on the PGA, European, Champions, Nationwide, LPGA and Japanese Tours.
“We give our tour staff the choice to play our newest drivers. More of them have chosen the R9 because of the performance advantage of (Flight Control Technology) and (Moveable Weight Technology),” said Sullivan.
“Nike apparently gives its tour staff the same choice, so what does it say about Dymo Str8-Fit that so few are playing it?” said Sullivan.
Rob Arluna, global golf club business director for Nike Golf, says the test numbers were legitimate.
“We felt so strongly about the results that we went to a third party statistical company and had them analyze the data and then went out and published the campaign. It’s Nike proprietary data and we’re dealing with the facts,” said Arluna.
“(The third party company) is absolutely an unbiased entity that basically analyzed our data to the degree that we had a 95 per cent confidence level on all the data and all the positions,” he said, adding that the $50 gift certificate was given only to people who appeared in the Nike video.
“Let me just be perfectly clear, the $50 gift certificate was given to the 10 or 15 people that were in the video,” he said. “It was for any product in the golf shop, not Nike-specific product. The test was done with hundreds of other consumers.”
Arluna adds that tour numbers and sales really have nothing to do with the message that Nike is trying to deliver.
“This is a performance story. We’re not talking about market share. We’re not talking about wins on tour. We’re talking about pure performance,” he said.
Sullivan said the Nike ad isn’t important enough for TaylorMade to respond with a campaign of its own.
“It’s a desperate move by a lesser company with a lesser product to steal market share,” he said. “The consumer’s smarter than that. These numbers prove it and retail sales prove it and our market share prove it, so we don’t feel that it’s necessary to do a campaign to counteract this,” he said.
“Obviously, our technology and R&D is our marketing campaign,” he added. “We’re dominant in that area and we’re going to stay focused on what we do. If other competitors want to worry about what we’re doing, that’s fine for them, but we’re going to worry about making a better golf club for the consumer.”
Arluna said Nike is trying to deliver a similar message.
“Our idea is to get consumers out into the market and out trying both products head to head or test the Nike product against any product out there at any given demo day and we think, head to head, we’ll win,” he said.