Arnold Palmer died Sunday at age 87. He was much more than a man and a famous athlete. He was an early pioneer, if not the first, to parlay his success into a brand and corporate empire that transcended his own achievements in golf.
When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, Arnold Palmer seemed to be everywhere. Not because anyone in my family, including me, cared about golf. I know my father had a set of rusty golf clubs in the garage when I was kid. I don’t remember him ever playing.
No, when I hear the name Arnold Palmer, it reminds me of Pennzoil commercials like this one, which were impossible to miss back then….
Those commercials were so iconic, and so gosh-darn sincere, that it’s hard to believe that anything else could be credited with the long term success of the Pennzoil brands. Which is why it’s shocking, and even a little bit sad, that a quick look at Pennzoil’s website and social media pages reveal no mention of the old pitchman’s passing. (Shame on you Pennzoil).
Over the years, Arnold Palmer built a brand that became synonymous with honesty, hard work and trust.
I made clear from the beginning that I didn’t feel comfortable pitching a product or service I wouldn’t use or didn’t think was very good. That just didn’t seem honest to me and I was pretty sure the public would see right through it. – Arnold Palmer
His earnings over a lifetime topped $1 billion (inflation-adjusted). Only a small portion of that came from winnings at golf tournaments. Since his death, as much has been made of the fact that a drink is named after him, than of his mastery on the golf course…
In addition to all of his trailblazing, traditional endorsement deals, Arnold Palmer was also a pioneer of sorts when it comes to content marketing. His was a global lifestyle brand that included apparel and, most prominently, his golf courses.
In 2003, Palmer saw a need for a lifestyle publication to serve the needs and interests of the members of his private clubs. Kingdom Magazine was born, in collaboration with publisher Matthew Squire and TMC USA, a golf media company.
As described on the Kingdom website…
People who enjoy golf don’t just play the game, they live the life. To reflect this the sport’s most loved individual, Arnold Palmer, and the Arnold Palmer Design Company, decided to provide their own exclusive magazine solely for the members and guests of the prestigious courses that they have designed across the United States of America.
Kingdom Magazine is an excellent example of pure content marketing. The editorial team emphasized quality over quantity. The magazine was first conceived as a yearly publication. Now there are a few issues each year. Kingdom is widely recognized for the quality of it’s writing and it’s high standards for design.
Take a look at a sample issue to get a sense of the high standards of this publication…
In addition high quality, Kingdom Magazine is great content marketing because it fulfills essential elements:
- Brand Leadership: Arnold Palmer’s leadership in the world of golf was undisputed, however, the publication of Kingdom Magazine certainly bolstered this status. It is an exemplary Arnold Palmer product and the perfect essence of his brand.
- Storytelling: The magazine is not just about equipment, championship courses and instructional tips. As the websites states, Kingdom “contains editorial of the highest calibre” and the cornerstone of that is great storytelling, including personal stories about Palmer himself, in-depth profiles of celebrities and interviews with top players.
- Empathy for the customer: Palmer designed the publication with his customers and readers in mind–the content speaks to their needs, interests and desires. He went to great lengths to design something that his followers could call their own.
- Engagement: Kingdom is just one part of the massive Arnold Palmer brand, but it allowed a glimpse into his life and his world for those who were eager to follow him. It offered a way for golfers and fans to develop a more personal relationship with the legend.
What do you think? Does Kingdom Magazine fit into your definition of content marketing? What other methods, other than traditional publishing, would have been an optimal platform for engaging Palmer devotees? Please send me your feedback.