Brand experience mastery and “The Masters”

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I can now cross Augusta National and The Masters off of the proverbial list, as I was lucky enough to attend the final weekend.

While we went for the thrill of it, and not for anything work-related, it’s hard (at least for me) not to equate it back to the branding and marketing work we do for a living. Because for me, I was blown away by the brilliant execution and subsequent “Masters” brand experience.

Here are some examples (in no particular order):

1. The course is flawless. Every detail paid attention to –– from the pine straw, to the stunning beauty of the azaleas, to the grass that is cut so fine that it could double as a carpet.

2. Before you can get to the course, however, you need to pass through multiple sets of gates and then through security. Unlike other similar events, however, everyone (literally) has a smile on their face, is as kind as can be, and is apt to be joking with fans. Case in point, you’re not allowed to bring in cameras or cell phones on the weekend. But more than once, we heard security asking if “someone would please take their picture so they could send it to their mom.”

3. It’s shocking how affordable everything is (though you do pay a handsome price to attend in the first place). But unlike other events – sandwiches, fresh fruit and drinks are upwards of only $2-$3 dollars. Brilliant, however, is the fact that all of the drink cups are really collectors items stamped with “2013 The Masters.” At the end of each day, everyone’s leaving with their drink cups. Avoids a lot of trash collection, doesn’t it?

4. Gift shops, while really crowded, are also designed to maximize the customer experience. Many of the shirts available for sale are behind a well-manned counter, identified by number. So all you do is ask for the number, by size, and your well-wrapped shirt (knowing that most people will be packing them) is ready to go. Cash registers are also outside the shops, mitigating the lines that typically interfere with shoppers.

5. The fans themselves are “different” at The Masters. They’re kinder, gentler and friendlier inside these ropes. Coming together to share in their love of, and respect for, the sport. Though it might also have to do with the fact that there’s no running, disparaging language or obnoxious shouting tolerated on the course 🙂

6. Sports was a huge part of my life growing up, and still is. So I really appreciated two of the more memorable acts of brilliant sportsmanship. The first being Angel Cabrera, recognizing with a thumb’s up his competitor’s shot on the second playoff hole. The second being the grace of winner Adam Scott in his post victory interview, paying homage to fellow countryman and mentor Greg Norman.

7. Finally (though not really), those same security people who welcomed you at 7am thank you for sharing your day with us , remind you to please drive safely so we can see you tomorrow, and ask you to think about the picture they want for their mom.

“The Masters” is an incredible brand with an incredible back story. Beyond the legends who have helped shape and add to the story –– from Sarazen to Nelson, Snead to Hogan, Palmer to Nicklaus, and most recently Bubba and Adam — brilliant execution and subsequent experience have definitely added to making this event one of the most highly coveted experiences a golf fan could ever ask for.

I’m glad that I can now say “thanks.”