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'Where's the Beef?' Cause Marketing

If you’re a NASCAR fan imagine racing against other skilled fans in full pro-race conditions at Daytona. Or imagine a little 11 on 11 action against other amateurs playing “the beautiful game” in between periods at the finals of the World Cup.

Nature Valley Granola Bars sponsors something very like that for amateur golfers in the United States called the Nature Valley Amateur. Meet the requirements, sign up, pay your fee (it’s never more than a couple hundred dollars) and you get to play against other amateur golfers on TPC courses across the country. The ad at the left is from Golf Digest in 2009, but the series is planned again for 2011.

At the end of the Nature Valley Amateur series, a championship is held at the famed TPC Sawgrass in Florida, headquarters of the PGA! TPC means Tournament Players Club, a chain of golf clubs operated by the PGA and optimized for professional tournaments.

Pretty cool, right? If you’re a competitive amateur golfer what a thrill it would be “step inside the ropes” as the press materials put it and test yourself against other fine amateurs on the very same courses the pros use.

So far we’re just talking about a corporate sponsorship campaign, not cause marketing per se. Except that Nature Valley Golf specifically identifies The First Tee as a partner in the ad and on the website. The First Tee is a nonprofit charity that works to introduce kids to the game of golf and teach them all its gentlemanly/gentlewomanly devoirs.

The First Tee has nine core values it endeavors to teach kids: Sportmanship; Respect; Confidence; Responsibility; Perseverance; Courtesy; Judgment; Honesty; Integrity.

The mission is equally high minded:
“To impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”
(I can’t resist saying that I’ve been impacted by the game of golf once of twice when the foursome behind me neglected to call out ‘fore!’ I apologize in advance to anyone offended by that dumb quip. But any organization that’s still using the word ‘impact’ in a mission statement deserves what they get).

I looked all over the Nature Valley Golf and The First Tee websites, but I couldn’t see how The First Tee is tangibly benefited by its association with the Nature Valley Amateur, although I certainly could have missed something.

But you don’t have to think too hard about how The First Tee could be tangibly benefited by its association with the Nature Valley Amateur. Golf may be the most generous game in all of sport when it comes to charitable fundraising. Every nonprofit in North America knows how to raise money with golf tournaments, just as every golf course in America has hosted at least some nonprofit fundraising.

So where’s the beef for The First Tee?

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