The boy wonder is a sponsor’s dream and this is a massive coup for Big Soda. Somebody, somewhere can expect a very handsome bonus for bagging this spectacular multi year deal on their behalf.
Spieth assures us that he “loves that Coca-Cola has always been associated with iconic sporting events and some of the world’s greatest athletes.”
In January 1998 I was working with the sports management giant IMG and my job took me to the back of the 17th tee at Blue Canyon Resort in Phuket, Thailand. (C’mon, someone had to be there!)
A kid called Tiger (our client) walked on to that tee for a playoff with Ernie Els in the Johnnie Walker Classic. The Big Easy swooshed and his drive did what I had seen it do so many times on TV. Sweet!
Your turn kid....
I was close enough to Woods to observe that he was built more like an elite 400 meter runner than any golfer I had ever seen.
There was no swoosh this time. Just a crack. Like a starter pistol.
Although 4 inches taller, the Big Easy walked off that tee a much shorter man. He was fully 80 yards behind the Master’s Champion.
Woods didn’t just beat the rest. He diminished them.
Everyone wanted a piece of him. As the sponsorship suitors lined up, I enjoyed an inside track on the strategic management of this spectacular new sporting “asset”. On IMG’s watch, Woods would go on to earn a billion dollars.
Spieth probably will too, but when I see him tee it up with Coke, I wonder what IMG’s founder Mark McCormack would think about that. To great mirth in our stable, McCormack commandeered me to create a ballroom dancing division because it will be “the next big thing on TV.” That was 1998. Turn on your TV today and it’s hard to avoid sequins and waltzes.
We - and I - should have known better.
McCormack didn’t just think strategically you see, he was so far ahead of the game you would forget he was the guy who started it all. He could see around corners and navigate accordingly. The UK Premiership? Made by Mark. Wimbledon as we know it? Made by Mark. The business of sport itself? Made by Mark.
Golf is 4 hours of low grade movement with an emphasis on maintaining cognitive performance and the mechanical ability to hit a ball 70 times with varying degrees of physicality. If you started with a blank page you would struggle to find a sport better designed for the fat adapted practitioner. At 22, that won't matter to Spieth.
The bigger point is this. When your name is Jordan Spieth, you get to choose how to make a billion dollars. He - and those around him - should have known better.
With $50 million changing hands here, Coke has not beaten him, but they’ve certainly diminished him.