But with the exception of Anheuser-Busch and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., marketers of general consumer products have been reluctant to put their money behind the activity.
The St. Louis-based APA hopes to change that, with its new mission to promote amateur pool as a sponsorship vehicle for a wider array of marketers, including devising new consumer promotions, sweepstakes and marketing tie-ins for sponsors.
SEEDY NO MORE
"Pool-playing once had a sort of seedy image, but in recent years it's opened up as a more fun and recreational pastime, open to adults of all ages and more women," said Theresa Daly, senior marketing coordinator for the APA, amateur pool's governing body representing 7,000 retail establishments with amateur pool leagues.
Another 3,000 pool venues across the U.S. are represented by independent amateur leagues; the APA is the largest national organization of amateur leagues.
RECORD NUMBER OF PLAYERS
Both A-B and R.J. Reynolds received heavy exposure at the 16th Annual Bud Light Team Championships held earlier this month in Las Vegas. The tourney drew a record 546 teams of seven or eight players, each competing for $600,000 in national prize money.
R.J. Reynolds also introduced the highly successful Camel Mini-Shootouts, which ran 24 hours a day throughout the eight-day event.
"We're very enthusiastic about sponsoring pool, and we're watching the sport grow in popularity," said Fran Creighton, director of marketing for R.J. Reynolds, which is in its second year of its latest APA sponsorship. A-B has been the sole title sponsor of the APA's tournament since its inception.
MORE PROMOTIONS BREWING
Examples of new promotions the APA hopes to try include bringing pool-playing events to shopping malls; adding pool-playing events as entertainment at auto races and adding consumer sweepstakes and promotions to tavern-based marketer promotions to win prizes and trips.
"Pool-playing is ripe for sponsorship in various categories, and we're starting to get interest from a wider range of companies," said Peter Bell, president of Monkton, Md.-based Event Marketing, which coordinates the APA's sponsorship sales.