Front Row: Fictitious Chase Fronts STX Putter Campaign
By Jason Butt
At first glance, no one would realize Skylar Chase, even with a golf club in his hand, was the self-proclaimed world's greatest putter. Fixated on his charming arrogance, excessive taste and living the high life, Chase embodies a unique personality that isn't typically seen on the course.
Then again, Chase isn't real. But his character, marketed by Baltimore-based sports products manufacturer STX, fits into a niche of up-and-coming young golfers that are not fans of fitting in with previous trends.
STX, known specifically for its lacrosse equipment, has featured a golf putter line since 1980 -- 10 years after the company was founded in 1970. In fact, the company was credited as being the first to use a urethane insert to aid a putter's feel on the green. The insert also placed additional topspin on the ball. This method has been mimicked since by most golf club manufacturers, but with different substances than urethane to be more cost effective.
As a small, private company, STX doesn't have the luxury of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to place a putter into the hands of some of the world's top professional golfers. After all, STX doesn't manufacture any other golf clubs besides putters. But STX is using Chase, like the innovation that began its putter line, to draw attention to its collection.
"That character is an example of how we want people to see the brand -- edgy and fashionable," STX director of golf Steve Henneman said. "We want people to live the STX lifestyle."
Chase possesses a confident swagger, which comes across as both narcissistic and comedic. It appeals to the late 20s to early 30s demographic STX vies to reach by not playing into the old, snooty country club golfer stereotype.
STX began the Chase advertisement campaign in January at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., generating a buzz at its booth with the ad campaign accompanying the putters. STX also re-launched its golf Web site with the Chase character, which features his sidekicks -- his caddy Bunny; his personal disc jockey, DJ Greens; and his model girlfriend. Henneman said the campaign had led to soaring sales, as the putter line has already matched its 2011 sales total this year.
The print ads feature Chase much like a GQ ad would, showing him holding a putter while wearing high fashion among strong background aesthetics.
STX also spent five days last fall filming the Chase character throughout Baltimore. The footage has been shortened into segments, dubbed "Chasers," which are gradually being uploaded to STXputters.com.
Todd Harvey, the principal/creative director at Mission Media, helped brainstorm the Chase campaign with STX. Harvey said Chase, much like the "Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis ads, had certain qualities that made him likeable.
"We have to walk a fine line," Harvey said, "but there's an endearing cockiness to him."
By creating a fictitious sports figure, STX is keeping tight control of the character. Having someone refer to himself as the best putter in the world is a bold statement. If the person portraying Chase is spotted on a putting green, he'll be forced to live up to the reputation. For now, public appearances aren't in the near future, which only plays to the mysterious angle of who Chase is. His whereabouts can be tracked via Facebook and Twitter.
More Front Row:
• 'Skills' Goes Out In Style, At Block Courage Awards
• Williams Among Honorees At Annual Vitale Festival
• Oriole Advocates Endure Through Thick And Thin
• Fictitious Chase Fronts STX Putter Campaign
• Winners Of Super Pool Contribute To Charities
• From The Cheap Seats
(Photos Courtesy of Mission Media and STX Golf)
Issue 172: April 2012