CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- TaylorMade won't be using a pro golfer to push its newest driver, instead opting for something a little more cute and cuddly -- as in "Sesame Street."
In a major TV ad campaign set to debut Jan. 3, the Adidas-owned golf-equipment maker will promote its latest club to the tune of "One of These Things is Not Like the Other," the children's classic that has been sung by the likes of Cookie Monster and other "Sesame Street" characters.
Cookie -- whose stock is soaring in the wake of a recent "Saturday Night Live" appearance -- was apparently not available, so TaylorMade's agency of record, indy shop NYCA, secured the song rights and re-recorded it using the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
The commercials -- which TaylorMade says will be its most expensive media buy for its metal woods -- plug the high-tech "R11" driver, which is marked by a mostly white-colored clubhead not usually seen on drivers. The club also incorporates various adjustable technologies that allow players to more accurately control ball flight path. The ads use the "Sesame Street" song in order to bring a spirit of learning to the many club features, said Michael Mark, CEO and creative director of Encinitas, Calif.-based NYCA, who gets downright Zen-like in describing the process.
"We wanted to disarm the fear," he said. "We wanted to bring people back to a time of learning and of openness when they would make personal leaps ahead without worry of what they didn't know. That's what 'Sesame Street' is all about."
The ad -- which will debut on the Golf Channel, and will also run on ESPN and during golf tournaments on CBS and NBC -- shows various shots of black clubheads, with the last shot being the TaylorMade white head that signifies that transcendant "personal leap."
TaylorMade is the second major golf company to introduce a white-colored driver. Cobra Golf in November launched an all-white Limited Edition ZL Driver, but produced only 500 of them, according to a statement. By contrast, TaylorMade is seeking mass-market appeal -- part of the reason for the aggressive TV campaign. "We think the clubs are going to be so exciting to the golf population that it merits getting in front of as many eyeballs as we can," said Bob Maggiore, TaylorMade's VP-brand and product marketing.
A majority of the roughly 60 tour pros who use TaylorMade clubs are expected to use the driver, including Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson, Mr. Maggiore said.
TaylorMade is the driver-market leader with a roughly 40% market share, according to Florida-based golf market researcher Golf Datatech. TaylorMade in 2009 promoted its clubs with $20.3 million in measured media spending, according to Kantar Media.
Mr. Maggiore said the white color absorbs light, reducing a distracting glare he said is common in glossy black drivers. The face of the club retains the common black color, which provides a contrast that he said will help players align the club. The driver also incorporates three separate technologies that allow users to adjust for a desired club alignment, ball height and slice/draw, Mr. Maggiore said.
"And the last thing is it just looks friggin' cool," he added.
Tom Stine, co-founder of Golf Datatech, said the white clubhead will "get attention at retail on the shelves, as well as it will get attention on television if the players use it." But once players try it out, "the proof is in the performance of the club," he said.