Pleased with the success of communicating its health message to female golf fans, Astellas Pharma has extended its three-year partnership with the PGA Tour for another five years.

The extension represents the newest deal for Astellas, which has deepened its involvement in sponsorship over the past several years. Other ties include the 2015 USA Rugby Eagles match against the Qantas Wallabies at Soldier Field in Chicago and the Astellas Professional Cycling Team.

Gary Kaiser, Astellas director of urology marketing, points to one primary reason behind the increased spend: consumers tuning out TV commercials.   

“The popularity of DVRs, TiVo and on-demand programming has made it difficult for brands to break through and capture attention, which has changed the model of direct-to-consumer marketing. Live TV is the last holdout where we can draw consumers with an affinity for a sport or charity back into a conversation.”

Astellas partnered with the PGA Tour in 2013 as a platform to champion health awareness among women, with focus on promoting Myrbetriq, a medication for overactive bladder.

While 44 million people in the U.S. suffer from signs and symptoms of OAB, the majority of consumers (75 percent) who seek treatment are female. Men are more likely to treat OAB through other male-focused urologic medicines.   

Astellas used PGA Tour research and secondary data to make the case for the partnership: Eight million of the 44 million consumers with OAB have an affinity for golf, while golf fans are more active managing their health than fans of other sports.

“That was the last connective piece on why the PGA Tour makes sense and why we continue to move forward in this space.”

Lessons Learned Lead To New Activation Programs
Astellas activated the first three years of the PGA Tour sponsorship with two programs: Executive Women’s Day—a networking event held in conjunction with golf tournaments—and a consumer health pavilion.

The company used the two platforms to encourage women to take charge of their health, around which it wove in Myrbetriq messaging.

While Astellas made headway at the events, it faced a challenge breaking through amid competing messages for diabetes, obesity and other health issues.

“As you can imagine, bladder health is not at the top of health conditions.”

That led Astellas to shift gears with a new activation program in year three of its initial contract: The PGA Tour Volunteer Challenge. The program is one of two activation programs in the company’s new five-year contract.

The Volunteer Challenge seeks to recognize and reward the more than 100,000 volunteers at PGA Tour tournaments via a “vote for me” competition designed to raise money for local charities supported by each tournament.

Fans that visit can vote for their favorite volunteer at 16 tournaments in 2016. The volunteer with the most votes at each tournament earns the opportunity to present a $10,000 check (on behalf of Myrbetriq) to the charity of his or her choice from a list provided by the tournament.

Astellas also replaced its on-site health pavilion with a new digital marketing campaign. The Must-See Moments promotion centers on a collection of weekly tournament highlight videos and a sweeps offering an all-expense paid trip to a tournament, a shopping spree, city tour and other prizes golf fans can use to create their own “Must-See Moments.”

The campaign thematic ties in the symptoms of OAB—consumers who suffer from the disease may miss a key moment of a tournament when they’re in the restroom.

The promotion gives Astellas an opportunity to engage consumers throughout the year, something it could not do with the traveling health pavilion, said Kaiser.

“It’s an opportunity to engage a fan base on the national level as opposed to tournament by tournament.”

Kaiser applauds the PGA Tour for its ability to adapt to Astellas’ evolving needs.

“Our number-one priority is to make sure we are delivering the value that partners need. We need to be flexible and adopt to the changing business needs of our partners,” said Brian Oliver, PGA Tour senior vice president of corporate partnerships.