By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON HARBOR — KitchenAid is again the primary sponsor for the Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor.
Because of this, the Whirlpool Corp. brand has its products sprinkled throughout the course along with its logo on nearly every flag. While KitchenAid helps bring a premier golf tournament to the Twin Cities, it gets a national platform in return.
Deb O’Connor, director of global partnerships for KitchenAid, said as the presenting sponsor there tends to be a lot of signs with their brand.
A lot of that branding ends up on television, she said. Several Whirlpool brands have stepped up their web and TV presence in recent years, in addition to Maytag partnering with Major League Baseball toward the latter half of the 2015 season.
In addition to having its name following the iconic championship title, KitchenAid built what volunteers call the “Stand Mixer Stadium.”
Sanjay Gaikwad, a KitchenAid volunteer who normally serves as a Whirlpool senior engineering manager, said the display consists of 75 stand mixers that range in use and color. The stadium stands out to the average passerby because the mixers are arranged by color, from light to dark, emitting a sort of cooking rainbow.
Among the mixers are the new attachments, ranging from a spiralizer to a ravioli maker.
“The way we push our new promotions is to scan (spectator) tickets, which has their email address already encoded on it,” Gaikwad said. “Instantly, they win a discount coupon for a KitchenAid product.”
The company has the KitchenAid Fairway Club with a remote kitchen and small appliances people can use. Inside the club, O’Connor said they have a different chef in there every day.
The club serves as a format for spectators to ask culinary questions, to touch and feel a product.
“This past year we introduced new stuff,” O’Connor said. “We just re-did the entire Fairway Club to make sure the style fits the new product. Last year we came out with an entire new line with a different finish on some of them. The Senior PGA Championship gives us a chance to highlight it.”
While it’s the PGA staff that erects tents and ensures the HVAC systems are working, O’Connor said KitchenAid volunteers create the environment inside. O’Connor estimated about 50 volunteers lend time throughout the weekend, who come from different Whirlpool departments and brands.
In addition, KitchenAid handles things on the golf course. When a golfer gets to a tee and he’s thirsty, O’Connor said there’s usually a cooler nearby.
“On six of the holes, you’ll see some of our products near the tee,” O’Connor said. “They can reach into a small mini fridge, with doors that look like a cabinet. There’s not just drinks, but fruit and candy bars.”
Every appliance near the golf course is a KitchenAid.
Scattered along the walkway near the driving range are a few stands, holding up random stand mixers. Toward the end of the golf cart path from the first tee to the Fairway Club, there are 8-foot billboards with information and graphics. The billboards show the history and landmarks for the Senior PGA and KitchenAid.
O’Connor said all the branding and set up is a yearlong process at KitchenAid, where they begin planning for the next tournament before the current one is over.
“I think it’s our opportunity to highlight our products for people coming through,” she said. “It’s a way to highlight the community and all of the great things in the Twin Cities.”