Hole in One for Uniqlo?

News & Views Sports - May 8th, 2013
The Masters - Round One

Incredibly good foresight or just plain old-fashioned luck? Whatever it was, Uniqlo couldn’t have timed the announcement of its partnership with Adam Scott better.

The same week that he clinched a dramatic play-off win at the Masters it was revealed the 32-year-old Aussie would become a Global Brand Ambassador for the fashion label, a role that will see him wearing their apparel in all competitions as well as taking part in a number of promotional activities.

It is another major coup for the Japanese brand, which already has Novak Djokovic on its books. While not quite as high-profile as the Serbian tennis sensation, Scott is undoubtedly one of the world’s most marketable golfers and his stock will have risen significantly following that victory in Augusta. According to Uniqlo’s president, Tadashi Yanai, he ticks all the right boxes:

“Our Brand Ambassador initiative targets individuals who are not only successful and ambitious in their own right, but also socially conscious and driven to give back to society,” says Yanai. “Beyond his outstanding athletic ability, Adam is a true gentleman and from this perspective, he is a wonderful addition. We understand and appreciate his determination to become the best golfer in the world.”

Interestingly enough Uniqlo was originally thinking ‘locally’ when it targeted Scott. Yanai believed he was “a good fit as an Australian,” because of “plans to launch in Melbourne in the near future.” The benefits of securing his signature, however, will be felt well beyond his native country. The Masters is, after-all, seen as the major with the greatest exposure for sponsors as it is regularly the tournament with the highest TV ratings.

Millions of people from around the world tuned in to see Scott – in his Uniqlo attire – edge out Angel Cabrera on a thrilling final day on April 14. It was initially surprising to see the Australian sporting the logo as it is hardly a brand known for golf-specific products.

“As a company, we aim to provide clothing that meets the needs of anyone, anywhere,” says Yanai. “Given its widespread following worldwide and accessibility regardless of age, golf is a good match for us. Our comfortable clothing, including polo shirts, chinos, and so on fits the demands of the sport.”

There may be a spike in the number of golf enthusiasts taking notice of a range of goods following Scott’s triumph at the Masters; the man known as ‘Scotty’ wore various T-shirts, trousers, belts and apparently even their underwear…

“I have come across Uniqlo many times in my travels and frequently visit their stores,” says Scott. “It is a brand with an established history of innovation, offering high quality clothing backed by quality materials and an attention to detail.”

It appears highly likely that many more stars will be wearing the brand in the future as the company looks to make even greater inroads into the sporting world. It began by sponsoring two of Japan’s most highly respected sportsmen, rising tennis star Kei Nishikori and three time Paralympic gold medalist Shingo Kunieda, though it is the names Adam Scott and Novak Djokovic that will cause the biggest waves internationally and this is, ultimately, what Mr. Yanai is hoping for.

by Matthew Hernon