InterviewMay 6, 2017

Wilson Golf president talks about Season 2 of Driver vs. Driver

As president of Wilson Golf, Tim Clarke has overseen a steady resurrection of the venerable brand. Included in that, was last season’s reality TV show Driver vs. Driver, in which everyday people submitted driver designs for consideration with the winning driver being produced and sold by Wilson. Although the Triton driver experienced some issues, the show provided enough of a boost to be brought back for second season on Golf Channel. Clarke answers five questions about the show and its impact on Wilson Golf from E. Michael Johnson.

What did you expect to get out of Season 1? The mission was a brand building exercise and the research we’ve done post show has shown that mission to be extremely successful.

Sales of Triton in the U.S. have not been strong, but you’re satisfied with Season 1. What are we missing? Part of what people aren’t seeing is the global aspect of the show and its impact. We have a strong brand across Europe but we are substantially there, particularly in Germany and Sweden where we are giving the top brands a run. The important aspect is that it’s not just drivers. It has had a profound effect on our ability to sell other products, primarily premium products. We have a stronger portfolio now and a stronger mix in the premium product market in the U.K.

You mention it was a brand-building exercise. What did you accomplish there? Our brand perception is up significantly and, importantly, in the 19 to 35-year-old segment. That is a desirable and important demographic for us.

What can we expect from Season 2 and what did you learn from the first go-round? Season 2 will be better and it will be different. We’ll have some guard rails in place to ensure we don’t have some of the hiccups we had last time and we expect to continue the brand elevation. We learned some other things, too. We learned that the entertaining aspects of the show were what proved popular. So this time around we’ll have more competition, more prototyping, more hitting of product. The presentation aspect will be scaled back and be more precise. We’ll change the judges a bit and are in the process of evaluation a short list for that. Our Tahoe edition with the celebrities was among our most popular so we’ll look to build on that as well.

Can someone who was a finalist last season try again? The ideation that came from Season 1 was incredible and now that the show has been seen and people see a road map for it, we expect the submissions to be better and more plentiful. It would not surprise me to see 1,500 to 2,000 entries this time around. Everyone but the winner from last year can submit and I guess they could even re-submit a product, although I don’t think that would be a very good idea.

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