The joy of the “A-ha” moment

Sometimes, you get an assignment and you’re stumped. What are you going to do?

I’ve had the honor of creating the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic invites for about the past eight years or so. Every year, the assignment is the same – invite the St. Louis ad community to play in the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic.

I’ve had great fun with these invites and have worked with some great art directors to create them. For the past five years, I’ve worked with Kristin Genovese – she currently works at Brown and I’m at McCarthy so we don’t get to see each other or work together very often.

Each year, I think we manage to come up with something that freshens the message of “please play in our tournament”.

This year, the Fall Golf Classic is returning to the St. Louis side of the river. For many years, it’s been played at either Gateway National or, more recently, Far Oaks.

Now it’s returning to St. Louis at a classic location for the Classic – Forest Park Golf Course. So the challenge was to creatively say that.

I’m a huge fan of playing golf in Forest Park – I’ve been playing there since high school, going back to the days when the course had a par 5 that spanned the width of Art Hill. On occasion, I managed to knock a wayward drive up by the statue of King Louie. I’ve always loved that statue, and it’s certainly the most recognizable landmark in Forest Park.

So I was thinking how can I showcase that the Fall Golf Classic is moving back to St. Louis – and that it was being played in Forest Park – when the answer became instantly obvious – switch out Louie’s sword with a golf club.

Bingo!

Then, right on the heels of that thought came another – “Come Play A Round In The Park”. It’s exactly what we want people to do. It’s simple. It’s got that little twist to it where it just feels right. Is it trite? I don’t know. But I liked it. And generally, I’ve found that if I like the line, odds are good that somebody else might like it, too.

So I spoke to Kristin and we kicked it around a bit on the phone and then she worked her magic to create the layout you see here.

If you’re at all involved in the St. Louis ad community, I encourage you to take a half-day on September 30 and come play a round in the park. It’s a fun day. Take a client. Invite someone who’s been working extra hard to enjoy a rare Tuesday afternoon away from the office. It’s for a good cause as all proceeds go to HavenHouse St. Louis.

And who knows, it might just inspire an “A-ha” moment of your own.

Not on company time

Sign ups for the St. Louis Ad Club Fall Golf Classic on Wednesday, September 12 are down.

Way down. So far down that if you play, your odds of winning a closest to the pin or longest drive prize are heavily in your favor.

It was only about 10 years ago that this event used to sell out. Golfers from different agencies would show up, ready for an afternoon on the links. It was a chance to treat your client or reward a few employees for their hard work with a fun round of golf. Vendors and suppliers to those agencies also showed up in force. It was always a great time.

That’s no longer the case. I’m definitely generalizing here, but it seems that most agencies and marketing communications firms simply have no time for golf during normal work hours. Maybe they feel that by letting some employees play a round of golf while the rest of the staff has to keep on working just isn’t fair. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe they feel that treating a client to a round of golf and spending a few hours away from work has no value. Or maybe the client can’t justify an afternoon that isn’t fully devoted to improving market share or generating sales. And all those vendors that used to play no longer seem to be playing. They were the support arm of the St. Louis ad community but as our ad community has dwindled, so has participation.

You can no longer write it off. It’s now a cost of doing business and it seems that most agencies and most vendors can’t justify that cost.

Not only is there the cost for playing, there’s also the cost of paying someone to not work for four hours. A twosome and you can double that. A foursome – sorry, there will be no Christmas bonuses this year because we let four employees play in the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic.

I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish that the St. Louis advertising and marketing communications community was absolutely thriving. I wish that membership in the Ad Club was expanding rather than contracting. But wishing won’t make it so.

Maybe the whole idea behind the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic has no meaning in this day and age. Does it contribute to the bottom line? Probably not. Is it exclusionary, slighting those in the company who don’t play golf? Possibly so. Does it do anything to improve company morale or improve client-agency relations? Possible – but if you’re going to treat a client to a round of golf, why not do it where your potential competitors aren’t in the foursome behind you?

Put it all together and you can see why signups are down. Next to the ADDYs, the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic used to be the second biggest fundraiser for the Ad Club, allowing the club to bring in guest speakers and help fund other events. It’s not anymore.

I play in my parish Men’s Club golf outing every year. It sells out every year. It’s a great chance to enjoy an afternoon away from work, be with friends and see people you don’t get to see often enough. Same basic principle as the Ad Club golf outing with one notable exception.

It’s not on company time.

So what do you think? I voiced my opinion. What’s yours?

Let’s hear how we could make the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic more interesting, more fun and above all better attended. Or at least let’s hear why you’re not playing.

And finally, if you’re interested in signing up, sponsoring a hole or simply coming out for the dinner at Far Oaks Golf Club, details can be found on the Ad Club website at: http://www.adclubstlouis.org/events/1472/st-louis-ad-club-fall-golf-classic