So a funny thing happened before my round this past weekend in Dallas. While standing around on the range talking to a bunch of my internet golfing friends, they suggested doing a mailbag on the ol’ web log here. I thought that was a pretty great idea, so I invited people on Twitter to send in their questions and I’d answer them every month or so.
I picked the ones that weren’t so techy and spec-y to answer. Hope you like. Kind of a long read, but you can read a little and then come back to it. Sort of like a giant birthday cake in your refrigerator that you just keep coming back to and working on until it’s done. Hope you like it.
“The X Hot fairway is ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome! What’s next in the fairway category?”
– Brian B. St. Louis, MO.
You guys are incredible! We just launched the best fairway in the industry by a mile (in our opinion) and you want to know what’s next?! Just enjoy the best we have and we’ll get back to you…ha ha! Ah, but we know you all are always wanting a peak around the corner…
…Needless to say, the folks in R&D haven’t slept in months (I’m starting to think they’ve actually cloned a few people down there in a ghoulish and frightening human cloning enterprise) and are working on even more industry and category leading performance to keep bringing to the market.
For example, we have the X Hot 3Deep coming out in a few weeks which gives even more distance from everywhere for stronger players. It’s a great addition to the X Hot family. So seriously, enjoy the best we have for now, and when we make something better, we’ll bring it out! We promise!
A lot of new Tour players are on the Callaway staff this year. Is that going to be the case in the future too or was this just a one year thing?
– Andrew S. Spokane, Washington
We will definitely be continuing to grow our staff going forward. And obviously who we add will be just as important as how many we add. This year we were fortunate to go get a bunch of new, young, exciting players. And not just get them, but to put them in our advertising, talk about them, and make them active and visible representatives of the “New Callaway.”
So in addition to Phil and Ernie, our anchors, we added Gary Woodland, Chris Kirk, James Hahn, and Andres Gonzales. We also have other young guys like Brian Stuard, Luke List, Bobby Gates, and Branden Grace on staff. So the Tour part of #teamcallaway will continue to grow in years to come.
And not just Tour, but we’ve partnered with the Long Drive of America too. So #teamcallaway includes Jamie Sadlowski and the other LDA players as well. And we will be doing a lot of cool things with them, we believe, that will be exciting for everyone.
“What is the “ZooCrew?” I keep seeing that name on the communities and on Twitter, etc. But I have no idea what it is.”
– Frank B. Indianapolis, IN
Sometimes we have no idea what it is either, so don’t feel bad! But seriously…
When we were first starting to have extensive dialogue about what we wanted to do to engage better, faster, more completely, and more uniquely with golfers, we became very excited about developing a new marketing model based on unequaled consumer engagement.
We felt there was an opportunity to redefine how a company engages with consumers–not just a golf company but any type of company. (Hey, go big or go home, baby!) This structure would be more active, more connecting, more transparent, more creative, more exciting, and more involved with golfers. It would be more about interacting and talking directly with consumers rather than marketing to them.
Simply put, we wanted to be part Creative Agency, part Newsroom, and part Morning Show, all rolled into one. Kind of like a big burrito.
The Creative Agency part was pretty easy for us to conceptualize. In practice, we wanted to be less paper-pushers, administrators, project managers, or advertising campaign coordinators, and more about being a part of a team of people constantly coming up with new creative ideas and avenues to relate to golfers everywhere.
We want to build and grow an environment of dynamic idea generation, both large and small, that gets our brand and our products connecting with golfers. Our overall goal for anything we do is to convey a passion for product performance, a passion for the game, and a passion for the golfer.
And we don’t like the normal campaign orientation or design of marketing today, because it feels so contrived, rehearsed, packaged, and controlling of the user experience. It’s exactly the opposite of what we feel consumers and especially golfers crave.
So we wanted some way of being considerably more current, topical, and on the front lines of what is important to golfers in real time. Because fundamentally we don’t believe that any company decides, dictates, or frames what is “cool” or “desirable” in our game.
Golfers decided that and it is our job to create a system to give them what they fundamentally want or is relevant in a unique, interesting, and exciting way. We knew we had to behave and operate more like a….
..Newsroom! If you’ve ever watched the HBO program “Newsroom,” (and you should if you don’t, because Jeff Daniels is one of the most underrated acting geniuses out there, though the storylines tend to get fairly moralistic, nevertheless) our group behaves very similarly.
We meet every morning to talk about what’s hot and relevant and on the minds of golfers that day, that week, that month, and that season. We try to make sure we are there for being relevant and top of mind. Sometimes those subjects don’t always necessarily have to do with golf purely, though we try to weave golf in there, obviously (who can forget the giant Yeti attacking the WGC in Tucson?).
But we also know that doing so in a way that’s overly or explicitly commercial is incredibly tiring, boring, and manipulative, frankly. Consumers see right through that. We want to deliver our stories and our engagement in a much more real, timely, and entertaining way.
And we want to do it in a manner where golfers can get to know us as people, not as some contrived notion of a company or brand. So we came up with the notion of turning ourselves into more of a ….wait for it…this part is the best part…ahem, turning ourselves into a…
…Morning Show! Yeah, you read that correctly, a freaking Morning Show. We want you all to know the characters that make up Callaway Golf. We want you to feel like you’re a part of the action and know that your opinions and thoughts are a part of our own company and the things we do. We hear you and react to try to give you unequaled and unmatched access.
And if you’re paying close attention, you will see that, we hope, and will be part of “the show.” We are not only engaging with tens of thousands of golfers on social media and digitally, but we’re out in the marketplace talking golf, playing golf, and listening to the feedback of golfers everywhere.
So the name “ZooCrew” is really just a tongue and cheek joke since we’re like one of those morning radio programs we all listened too growing up. And what started out as more of an internal joke actually became pretty significant and meaningful to us, so we just decided to own it and embrace it.
I know I’ve answered this in a very deductive way, (Barbara Minto would be appalled) but I think it needs to have the context before answering the simple question of “What is the ‘Zoo Crew?’” Hey, sometimes the simplest questions have the most complex answers!
By the way, our model of creative agency, newsroom, and morning show, which we began implementing back in July of 2012, isn’t just hocus pocus. Check this out, if you’re so inclined:
and then there’s this too:
After answering that question, this one had to be answered:
If they made a #zoocrew movie or after school special, what actors would play each person?
– Jeff E. Westport, CT
Well, the actual ZooCrew, or Callaway marketing team, is a lot bigger than just the folks you see and talk to on Twitter and Facebook. But for this question, I’ll just cast the ones that are on Twitter. And I’m thinking more HBO series rather than movie. Here goes:
The quick answer for Rhiona, aka “Ace,” aka “The Marketing Warrior Princess” (or just “WP,” ) would be Taylor Swift, but that’s only because the WP would appreciate hanging out with her favorite singer in the trailer while they were filming the movie.
But the WP is more reserved and contemplative. Reticent. But a silent, cagy, marketing assassin. She’ll slice and dice it up. (Actually more ninja like. Should we re-nickname her? No, too many nicknames. ) The MP is very funny on text and Twitter, though not very prolific.
She picks her spots and is more quiet in person. Somehow you know there’s some tempestuous stuff going on under a calm exterior. I think Kristin Wiig is the perfect choice here, but Wiig will have to be more introspective in this part. Kind of a wildcard pick, but a good one, I think.
Scotty G, our head of PR, is the easiest of all to cast since he’s doppelgangers with the actor who’ll play him. A young Burt Reynolds gets the part here. Not the creepy toupee and mustachioed Burt but the younger Burt. We’ve been trying to get Scott to drive a Trans Am and wear a cowboy hat, but so far he’s resisted. He’s really missing the boat, I think.
Many people will be shocked that when I get Alan Hocknell and the R&D team to make a time machine, that my first activity in it will be to go back to 1973, kidnap the young Burt Reynolds, and return him to present time to play Scott Goryl in our series. But hey, anything for the show…
Jason Finley, our marketing director for woods and irons, would be played by Jonah Hill. J-Fin’s not as young as Jonah Hill, but J-Fin is kind of a fat guy in a skinny guy’s body, just like Jonah Hill.
Hill could pull off J-Fin’s crabby-funny combination quite well and he’d throw out some good one-liners that cuts through the clutter and summarizes the misery of whatever the uncomfortable moment might be. And wardrobe would be easy, since he’d just wear black and khaki the whole time. Keeping costs in line is important!
Greg Sabella, our sardonic marketing director for Odyssey and golf ball is king of the oxymoron observations, which is how we got to call J-Fin the “skinny-fat guy.” In a very controversial but innovative casting, and one that will be hailed and acclaimed by the international film critics the world over, we will have Melissa McCarthy play this part as a man. Trust me, this will work and it will kill. Don’t get angry, Greg, just enjoy McCarthy’s award-winning performance as you.
Chad Coleman, aka “@HashtagChad,” our social media maven, is kind of a tough cast, because it’d be difficult to capture his raw enthusiasm, 100% authentic love for life, and recent turnip truck ejection. He’s also from Arkansas so he’s got that huckster, Southern, Hey Y’all Dangit thing working for him too. He will hate the casting of this and will no doubt give a very sullen and disappointed “Dang!,” but I think it’ll work. Jack McBrayer gets the part. The audience will love it even if HashtagChad will not.
JRod, our creative director, will be played by Joe Rogan. Like Rogan, JRod is a martial arts guy and is very funny and three dimensional. We think there’s a dark side to JRod’s mercurial behavior, but thankfully we haven’t seen it yet in the 10+ years he’s been at Callaway. Rogan won’t have the Latin charisma thing that JRod has and works, but he will have the swagger and unpredictability.
Pete Avery, or “HeyPete” as he’s known around our parts, will also be difficult to cast. He’s steady and takes care of the business of retail marketing. He’s kind of like an offensive lineman, because you don’t hear from him when he’s doing the job well. And he’s also our moral compass in the Zoo Crew. (New nickname possibility! HeyPete is the UnOffensive Lineman!).
I think I heard HeyPete curse one time, I’m not sure. Jeff Daniels would actually be a good selection for him. Midwestern sensibilities, both Daniels and Pete, and we already know how good Daniels is. And they do kind of look alike.
Matty Haneline, or MattyGolfClub, is our equipment guy on the ZooCrew. He worked on the fitting vans for a few years and knows everything about techs and specs. He’s also got a million great road stories from zig sagging across the country fitting golfers and generally getting into all kind of nighttime trouble.
He’s also kind of a matinee idol. And he’s also from Indiana, so he has that naivete thing going for him, which I’m sure worked wonders for him as a younger guy traveling the country in a fitting van. We’re going with a young Woody Harrelson here, sort of reprising his Woody Boyd character from Cheers. Definitely cagier than he looks.
The Queen of Clubs, Stephy, is our liaison to customer service. She was a demo tech for a while up in Chi-CAH-go area and knows way too much about golf specs and such than is actually good for her own well being, in my opinion. But that’s another story. And Steph’s kind of sassy and says some things that are lough out loud outrageous, though I’m not sure their intentionally funny or not.
75% of her tweets make absolutely no sense at all. The accent will be a challenge for whatever actress gets the part because the Chicagoland delivery is key for capturing Stephy’s essence. You’ll have to look this actress up, but Kat Dennings, one of the main actresses from “Two Broke Girls,” gets the part.
I’ll leave my own casting up to the real professionals. Maybe I’ll play myself in this one, so that I won’t have to be embarrassed by Henry Rollins, Drew Carey, or the lead singer of Bare Naked Ladies playing me. I think those are only because of big-glasses similarities, because when I take my glasses off and wear contacts, I get Jason Bateman most often. I’m definitely looking into Lasik…
Jason Bateman plays me, sans glasses.
The other ZooCrew cast and crew would be so much fun to cast, but we’ll wait on them as they come on board…
I’m seeing all this cool activity from Callaway on social media. What’s the plan and what’s next?
– Dennis M. Shreveport, LA
I am way, WAY late to this party, but I recently read an article about the “6-word Story” genre and the derivations that came from that concept. We played around with our own 6-word mantra for our marketing and branding and have partially landed (soft land? Quasi-land?) on this: “Inspire with Passion, Creativity, and Engagement.”
Again, our goal is to be the most engaging and most connecting. We want to be the company that is about you, the golfer. So, we will continue to create new platforms that fit in the intersection of product performance, passion for the game, and inspiration and utility for the golfer.
To that end, we have a bunch of ideas we are planning to do to continue to provide engaging, relevant, two-way content to the golfer. We have an idea that we’re not quite ready to announce yet, but it’s first of its kind and I think you all will really love it.
And not only will you be entertained, but this idea will help you play better golf! We will be announcing it sometime in the next few weeks once we iron out some of the detail, logistics, and delivery. I’m excited. Can you tell?
Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of #teamcallaway. You got through the whole thing. Nothing but crumbs left on the plate. And don’t go licking the plate. That’s way beneath you.