Networking tool becomes shop window for business

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 1997, 12:00am

What was originally planned as a networking tool for corporate executives has developed into a shop window for companies to display their products and services.

Companies have been using the Ericsson Corporate Golf League, which is presented by the South China Morning Post, to entice corporate decision makers, many of whom represent their target market.

Ericsson, the principal sponsor, has used the league to promote its new line of phones, while STAR TV has sponsored a longest-drive contest at each leg to reinforce golf's importance to the satellite broadcaster.

Alfred Dunhill, another sponsor, has displayed its Alfred Dunhill Golf Collection, and Riche Monde, distributors of Johnnie Walker products, has sponsored a nearest- the-pin competition as part of its on-going sponsorship of golfing events in the region.

Charles Henshaw, general manager of Ericsson's fixed and cellular networks division, said the league provided a good opportunity to showcase its new line of phones to corporate decision makers who were potential customers.

The company has been giving away a free cellular phone at each event in a lucky business card draw. It also boasts the largest contingent of players, with five to six foursomes playing in each leg of the league.

'The corporate side is always important to us and we are trying hard to target our products. Our latest phone is a high-end product. We also have a new GF728 handphone with a fresh colour scheme and some different functions targeting the sport users,' Mr Henshaw said.

'It's important we are as visible as possible and golf has been a good way of reaching corporate executives. A lot of these people have mobile phones themselves but it's getting the visibility and the profile which allows us to display the new technology and inform them what's out there.' Charles Brian-Boys, Alfred Dunhill's regional director of marketing services, said the league was useful in gauging response to its Alfred Dunhill Golf Collection introduced last year.

'We have seen quite a few items from the collection worn by players and we are getting requests for other products, so it is helping to evolve the range.' STAR TV and its joint partner, ESPN, are the largest providers of almost all live golf television coverage in the region. The broadcaster has been sponsoring the longest drive competition in Hong Kong and at other JBA corporate golf leagues in the region.

Mark Denton, a STAR TV advertising sales executive, said: 'There's a fantastic range of business people from many different categories, many of whom are our target categories for advertising. If we can make a combination of a nice day out and some good personal contacts, it's good for both sides.' Claes Rydberg, director and general manager of Riche Monde, Hong Kong, distributors of Johnnie Walker, said the company was using the league to entertain guests and customers.

'It's good to get some branding on the course as we have been involved in golf in the region for many years. Most people who are aware of Johnnie Walker associate it with golf and this just reinforces the message,' he said.

Mark Devadason, Standard Chartered's head of global corporate banking, Hong Kong, said as a result of the league's success he was encouraging other companies to join.

'It's the first year and Standard Chartered is the only bank here which in itself is a statement of our commitment. As the corporate league expands next year and as more companies come in, that is when the branding will get peak exposure,' he said.