Golfing miracle mum shunned by sponsors


By Michael MacLeod

GOLFING supermum Catriona Matthew is a victim of gender-bias according to marketing experts, after she was dropped by major sponsors.

The mum of two won the women’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes last weekend – just 11 weeks after giving birth.

But sponsors’ logos on her clothing and golf gear were nowhere to be seen, despite the 40-year-old rewriting the history books as the first Scots woman ever and the first Scot in a decade to win a major championship.

After taking the title, the North Berwick golfer revealed she had been dropped by VisitScotland and financial services firm Aegon.

She explained: “VisitScotland told me they wanted to put all their money into the Ryder Cup.

“I play mainly in America and I thought that was the perfect market for them, but they obviously didn’t.”

And now her management, 110sport – who also look after Olympic cycling hero Chris Hoy – have admitted there is a “limited” market offering cash in return for a logo on sportswomen’s clothing.

Brian Marchbank, a former European tour professional and now director of golf at Stirling-based 110sport, says it’s not just golf where women’s sponsorship is lacking.

He said: “The opportunities for sponsorship in the women’s game are significantly limited – not just in golf, but across the board.

“110sport has been actively pursuing new sponsorship deals for Catriona.

“Success in the British Open has opened up new avenues and 110sport will be pursuing those.”

The fact firms are reluctant to take on sportswomen shows there is sex discrimination at play, according to Pippa Collett, of the European Sponsorship Association.

She said: “Investment in men’s sports has been much more significant, and over a much longer period than women’s sports – a function of societal gender bias – so women’s sports are disadvantaged.

Collett continued: “Even though there are many products women sports stars could promote, brands are reluctant to invest when there is possibly a more cost effective alternative and that is a male brand ambassador.

“My recipe for success would be to get her as much media coverage as possible, to build her personal brand, to create visibility and communicate her personal values.”

Despite collecting a healthy £197,059 for her efforts, Matthew’s first prize was 23 per-cent of the bumper cheque American Stewart Cink pocketed for winning the men’s Open two weeks earlier.

Aegon denied there was any question of sex discrimination in dropping Matthew from a high-profile media campaign last year.

The firm’s Lesley McPherson said: “Aegon was pleased to sponsor Catriona for a year-long agreement, which came to an end on 31 December 2008.

“One of the main reasons that we decided not to continue with the arrangement was that Catriona was spending much of her playing time in the USA, and one of the main aims of our strategy is to raise awareness of our brand in the UK.”


Comments are closed.