AT&T Makes Emotional Connections Via Charity Event
Started by a group of Ma Bell employees to cook up some cash for fellow AT&T staffer (and cancer patient) Steven Cox, the employee-run Cox Charity Classic has evolved over the last few years into one of the nation’s largest one-day amateur charity golf events.
The number of AT&T business partners who have joined the cause continues to grow. Roughly 620 golfers representing 120 companies head out onto the green annually to raise some coin for the charity. City sports radio station WFAN is also a partner, chiming in with live broadcasts and promotional spots. The station’s celebrity talk show host, Don Imus, hosts an Imus Teed Off Challenge at the start of each Classic. And other bigwigs, such as Jack Welch, Phil Simms, Jim Nantz, Mike Lupica and Mark Messier were participants on the links last year (in total, 700 golfers and reception-only guests were present).
“Those of us who run the Classic don’t see it as just another big corporate charity golf event,” says Michael Marion, AT&T’s corporate sponsorship and event marketing director (and chairman of the Classic). “And neither do our partners.”
AT&T strives to make an emotional connection with the Classic participants, going way beyond a simple awareness-driving activation strategy and giving guests an in-depth look into both the beneficiaries of the event and the tournament’s namesake.
This isn’t a PGA Tour event, but you’d never know it. WFAN’s wall-to-wall coverage brings an air of excitement. On-air promos across Westwood One’s radio network support, as do the co-sponsors and partners. Media hits on everything from MSNBC to the Golf Channel gave people nationwide a taste of the property in 2002, while $700,000 of donated media exposure added to the mix. With $620,000 (124-percent of the goal) raised last year, the Cox Charity Classic remains a sponsorship charity event that transcends what many marketers do with their philanthropic bucks.