Friday Perspective - Rory vs. Rickie: Golf's Next Great Rivalry (and marketing's too)

Every Friday I give quick perspectives, opinions and thoughts on the world of marketing and beyond. This week’s entry is below.


Last weekend golfer Rory McIlroy captured his second straight major tournament win by besting the field at the PGA Championship. One of his closest challengers was Rickie Fowler, who finished two strokes back tied for third place. At points during the tournament’s final day, Fowler held the solo lead and a share of the lead.

In looking at these two battle last weekend, I believe we witnessed not only golf’s next major rivalry, but a rivalry that will extend beyond the golf course to marketing suites.

Think about it… Both have obvious talent - Rory won two majors this year and Rickie finished in the top five at all four, something only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods previously accomplished. Rory is Irish and Rickie American, so they’ll battle in international competition for years to come at the Ryder Cup and give the media a rivalry to frame. Both are young (25) and have years of great golf ahead of them. Rory is a Nike endorser (look for him to take Tiger Woods’ place as the brand’s top golf endorser), while Rickie is under contract with Puma (and has heavily influenced the bright colors you’ll see on many young golfers today).

Additionally, they both have a first name that is either unique or uncommon enough to warrant being called by it alone, as I’ve done throughout the previous paragraphs. This is an underrated aspect of this budding rivalry. Rory and Rickie would follow in the footsteps of some of golf’s past greats who became known simply by their first name - Arnie (Palmer), Jack (Nicklaus), Seve (Ballesteros), Tiger (Woods) and Phil (Mickelson), to name just a few.

For years the media and marketers tried to find a rival for Tiger Woods. The Monday Night Golf battles featuring Tiger opposite golfers such as David Duval, Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson proved that. Unfortunately none rose to consistently offer him a challenger (Phil rose to elite level after Tiger’s personal and professional lives fell apart).

In Rory and Rickie, I think golf fans and marketers may have finally found the rivalry they’ve been waiting for.


The Ice Bucket Challenge post I wrote about last Friday continues to spread virally. Since publishing that article, I’ve seen Ethel Kennedy, Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Carson Daly, the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins take the challenge. And I know there are many more I haven’t seen. The donations have continued to roll in as well.

However, I’ve also seen a number of people now refusing to take the challenge. That’s bound to happen. As more people know about it, some are bound to take a negative view or, I don’t know, not want to get wet? A number of the people I've heard voice criticism of the challenge seem to be natural cynics or anti-mainstream, refusing to believe something they view as annoyingly trendy could actually produce real benefits.

However, this morning I read an article on AdWeek containing results of a study done by Amobee. The article stated that, “Scanning more than 2 billion online mentions, it saw that the number of viewers who saw or read content that referred to the terms "ALS," "Lou Gehrig's Disease" and "Ice Bucket Challenge" skyrocketed from the week of July 30 to the week of Aug. 6.”

It went on to say, “items that included the term "ALS" increased 1,007 percent, and ones that mentioned Lou Gehrig's Disease increased 1,167 percent. And, since the campaign began, there's been 42 percent fewer materials read or seen with the words "Ice Bucket Challenge" compared to ALS-related terms.” That’s right - more people are mentioning ALS related terms than Ice Bucket Challenge.

Now I'm sure natural cynics will dissect those numbers and the methodology and remain skeptical, but to some degree they show that this is not simply a “clicktivism” campaign of people wanting to fit in. We have data showing massively increased awareness to accompany the reports of increased donations.

Finally, for the people who don’t want to get wet or think a post saying you made a donation supporting ALS is more powerful than taking the challenge, think about this - the Ice Bucket Challenge has spread mostly over Facebook. What typically rises in news feeds - videos or text posts? And what generates more comments, views and likes (all actions that drive content up in news feeds) - a video of you dumping ice water on your head or you writing a couple paragraphs about ALS in a text post?

Making a donation is great. I applaud that. It’s even greater if you do that and take the challenge because we're now seeing it really is raising awareness. Either way, the criticism of the challenge should end now.

Time to fill that bucket up if you’ve been holding out...


I’ve been thinking about Snapchat a lot recently. Probably because I’ve been reading about it quite a bit. What started as a tool for teens and looked upon with skepticism by most marketers has become a very powerful tool for a lot of brands. Or maybe I should say has the potential to become a very powerful tool for a lot of brands - since only a few brands have used it.

Snapchat offers another avenue to reach younger demographics on their terms. It’s a fit for companies trying to reach those demographics. So why not try it?

But those brands that aren’t targeting younger demos - stay away. Don’t misinterpret my words as a nudge to use it. Assess if it's the right fit for you.

This post is syndicated from its original publishing on LinkedIn.