It was almost a Nascar moment for golfer Phil Mickelson as he publicly thanked Callaway Golf on ESPN/ABC's telecast after he won the British Open on Sunday. "Lefty" even sent a few "Atta-boys" to the company technicians who designed the Callaway X Hot 3Deep Fairway Wood he used to reach the Par 5 17th hole in two shots.
Mr. Mickelson has played with Callaway golf clubs since 2004. But his sponsor didn't pay Mr. Mickelson for the on-air plugs, according to the company. That was "just Phil being Phil," said Jason Finley, Callaway's director of marketing.
"He's a very authentic, genuine person. He really appreciates our efforts, particularly our R&D team," said Mr. Finley.
And Callaway obviously appreciates the British Open win. As Mr. Mickelson fired a final-round 66 to beat Tiger Woods and other contenders, Mr. Finley had an eight-person team working at the company's San Diego-area offices to prepare an ad campaign capitalizing on his win.
First, Callaway used social media to congratulate Mr. Mickelson and spread the word about the Callaway woods, irons and wedges, Odyssey putter and the HEX Chrome+ golf ball he played in Scotland.
"One for the thumb. Congratulations on your 5th major championship, Lefty," read one Callaway tweet with a picture of Mickelson holding the Claret Jug trophy annually handed to the British Open champion.
Then the team went to work preparing a full-page ad congratulating the San Diego native for Monday's San Diego Union-Tribune.
This week, Callaway will roll out more ads in GolfWeek and other publications emphasizing its sponsorship of Mickelson.
The Carlsbad, Calif.-based golf company works with local ad agency Taco Truck Creative. Victory ads are typically produced in-house due to the need for speed. But the Taco Truck creative team was on-site working with Callaway's marketing department this weekend, said spokesman Scott Goryl.
The fan-friendly Mr. Mickelson has long been Madison Avenue's second-favorite spokesman after Mr. Woods. Other than Callaway, he endorses KPMG and Barclays and arthritis medication Enbrel.
Mr. Mickelson ranked as the country's sixth-highest earning athlete in Sports Illustrated's 2013 'Fortunate 50' report. Mickelson made $39.5 million in on and off-the-course earnings, according to SI. The bulk -- $36 million – came from corporate endorsement deals.
As Mr. Woods continued to recover from the sex scandals that cost him sponsors such as Accenture and Procter & Gamble, SI said Mickelson actually made more in endorsement dollars than his long-time rival: $36 million to Tiger's $33 million.