By  on May 14, 2008

Brooks Brothers is hitting the greens as clothing sponsor of the PGA's Stanford St. Jude Championship in Memphis next month, including the presentation of a championship jacket — part of its first effort to market the 190-year-old brand in national sports settings.

Outfitting the champion of the PGA event with a seersucker jacket tailored by Brooks Bros., when the event concludes June 8, will follow the retailer's first-time national golf presence, the cosponsorship of the LPGA's Stanford International ProAm in Miami, in April. Special embroidery will spell out the champion's name in the lining, the first time a seersucker jacket will be awarded to the winner of a PGA tournament. Brooks Bros. credits itself with introducing seersucker in the U.S., during the 1830s.

After executives of the retailer attended last year's PGA tournament, they and the tournament chiefs decided to work together, as they are both benefactors of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and the tournament group suggested Brooks Bros. develop a winner's jacket, according to Kevin Krisle, executive director of the PGA contest.

Staff, executive team and volunteer crew of the tournament will don Brooks Bros. threads from the start of the event on June 2, much as their counterparts did at the LPGA ProAm in Miami last month. The clothes they sport will range from a suit to a navy blazer to a polo shirt.

The idea is to extend the lifestyle sensibility of the Brooks Bros. Country Club brand beyond the confines of stores, catalogues and online to the settings in which it envisions its customers wearing such items, explained Louis Amendola, chief merchandising officer at Brooks Bros. The signings of golfers like Scott Verplank and Taylor Leon as brand ambassadors also served as inspiration.

Marketing moves such as these are projected to grow from three golf tournaments this year (a third, yet-to-be-named site is being negotiated) to four or five sporting events in 2009, Amendola said.

"As we evolve the ProSports line with more tennis and sailing products, we will definitely entertain" more kinds of event marketing, Amendola said of the ProSports performance apparel bearing the Country Club name. "We are also interested in events specific to certain cities where we have stores." Brooks could establish a presence at a regatta in Newport, R.I., for example, where one of its seven Country Club stores is located.Even as it negotiates to sponsor a third golf contest this year, Brooks Bros. is still determining how big to go with such marketing plays, how much product it ought to develop for those events and how many of those items it will offer in its stores, catalogues and online, Amendola said. So far, souvenir polo shirts for its first two LPGA and PGA tour stops and seersucker hats, belts and totes with tournament logos have been earmarked for sale at Brooks Bros., the main tie-in with the stores.

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