About the only item you can’t purchase through Arnold
Palmer Inc. is, well, Arnold Palmer ink. Scroll through 50
years of advertisements, files, contracts and promotions and
you can’t find any juice for when your pen goes empty.
You can, however, get one of the many stylish brands
of Arnold Palmer pens and use it to write notes on Arnold
Palmer stationary or to keep score on one of more than 300
courses around the world designed by the Arnold Palmer
Design Company. Use the pen to Arnold Palmer dog collars,
card games, bed sheets or CD holders. Figure your handicap
on an Arnold Palmer calculator, keep a Palmer mouse pad
next to you computer and get around the kitchen in an Arnold
Palmer apron. No kidding, you can get just about anything you
want branded with the Palmer name except the ink (at least
not yet). But the success of Arnold Palmer Enterprises—and
the business achievements of the man himself—have to do
with far more than just his popular name.
“Arnold Palmer has always been a step ahead, a man
in front of time,” says Scott Curry, an APE marketing
executive. “For example many modern golfing superstars
now have private jets but they can’t fly them themselves.
Arnold has flown his own jet for decades enabling him to
combine golf whilst simultaneously extending the global
reach of his name and his companies.”
Scott says this adaptability has led Palmer to work with
many of the corporate world’s most prestigious companies;
including Rolex, Cadillac and Callaway (just to name a few).
But rather than get lost amidst the blitz of business brands,
“He has always been recognizably his own man,” says Curry.
“Try finding a picture of him sporting the logo of a sponsor,
and you’ll discover the insignia on his shirt has always been
The umbrella dates back to 1963, and it is a Palmer
concept. Befitting Palmer’s personality it is bold but fun,
with bright splashes of red, white, yellow and green across
the panels. Most golfers use umbrellas to simply repel falling
water, Arnold used his to attract another element: Money.
Under the Palmer umbrella are more than 90 satisfied
licensees spread across three continents who link to Palmer
to help their robust businesses thrive.
Despite the large scale of his enterprise, Arnold Palmer’s
business network seems downright intimate and friendly.
Anyone who’s spent time at Bay Hill or met Arnie at an
event won’t be surprised; there is perhaps no head of a large
conglomerate so approachable.
Palmer’s easy-going, straightforward but elegant manner
is represented in his fashion as well, as GQ magazine recently
recognized by placing him in the all time Top 50 list of the
world’s most stylish men. No surprise, apparel is a staple of
Palmer’s enterprise. AP clothing goods are available on three
continents in 33 countries. Young girls in Japan shop at AP
stores for what are considered in Tokyo to be trendy fashions.
It’s likely they have no idea that Arnold Palmer ever struck a
golf ball, but the Renown brand of clothes that bear his name
are decidedly cool, and rank alongside Polo Ralph Lauren and
Tommy Hilfiger as classic American Brands.
Not long after their handshake deal effectively launched
IMG—a business subject that merits a further article in its
own right—Palmer and Mark McCormack (the IMG founder
and touchstone pioneer of sports marketing) decided to take
the Palmer name to the burgeoning markets of Asia. To
generations of Japanese, South Korean and Chinese customers,
Arnold Palmer simply means “America.” They snap up AP jackets,
swimwear, pajamas, aprons, socks, lingerie, scarves, suspenders,
neckties, hair bands, sandals and even dog apparel. Closer to
home, Arnold Palmer clothes will be sold in more than 1,200 J.C.
Penney stores nationwide beginning in February.
During a credit crunch it is always sensible to have
some liquidity, and Ketel One is an excellent source
of that. Mr. Palmer’s
relationship with the brand
is a perfect example of how
his integrity—not just
his popularity—drive the
market for his name. There
can be no doubting the
truth in the Ketel One
ad that runs: “We know
you’re not influenced by
what other people drink,
however, we thought
you’d like to know Arnold
Palmer drinks Ketel One.”
That ad has appeared in
numerous top magazines,
including Golf Digest,
the largest selling golf
publication in the world
Palmer is a marquee
Of course, on the beverage front Palmer is most known for
the family friendly non-alcoholic libation that he popularized
and which bears his name. The “Arnold Palmer” (consisting
of half lemonade/half iced tea) appears on menus around the
world and was even mentioned during the final season of “The
Sopranos.” Today, the AriZona Beverage Co. offers it in a new
distinctive 20-ounce twist-off golf ball bottle.
More than just being known for the drink, Arnold Palmer
actually drinks it. Same with Ketel One. In fact, Mr. Palmer
has always been adamant about standing behind the products
he endorses. When his hearing began to fail he started using
and sponsoring Starkey Hearing Aids, powering them with
Palmer-endorsed Rayovac batteries. His appreciation of fine
engineering and top quality means that as long as he’s endorsed
Rolex, there’s been a Rolex on his wrist. His relationship with
that company is so appreciated that, years after Arnold’s first
meeting with then-Rolex chair Andre Heineger in 1961 in
Japan, it’s still being celebrated. As Rolex’s current Managing
Director Patrick Heiniger (son of Andre) said during a July
2007 event honoring Palmer and other sports legends, “What
we share transcends our association through sport and is
rooted in the timeless values that each one of you celebrates
in your daily life, be it through your philanthropic work, your
business activities, your passions, your hobbies.”
When it comes to standing behind a product you
endorse, use of an aircraft might be the best show of support
yet. Palmer’s long history with Cessna is certainly that. For
many of the 50 years he’s had a pilot’s license, Palmer has had
a close working relationship with the aircraft manufacturer.
Since 1996, he’s flown the excellent Citation X, among other
planes. And when he lands, there’s Wyndham, the high quality global hospitality provider he endorses, and which gives back
to the game (they’re the title sponsor of the PGA’s Wyndham
Championships, which Palmer attended in 2008).
On the subject of golf courses, Arnold Palmer Design
Company has built some 300 courses around the world,
including numerous PGA Tour stops and The K Club, host of
the 2006 Ryder Cup. You can also have your course managed by
Arnold Palmer Golf Management, a division of Century Golf.
Naturally Mr. Palmer’s reach within the industry of golf
is huge. You’ll find Palmer-recommended Callaway golf gear,
Lampkin grips, EZ-Go golf carts, and Jacobsen maintenance
equipment. Off-course, you can read Arnold Palmer books or
watch shows on the Golf Channel, an enterprise Palmer endorsed and actively supported when critics were sniffing that no one in
their right mind would watch a channel dedicated solely to golf.
There’s more, of course. There are Encore Banks in Texas
and Florida; a superb Arnold Palmer Restaurant in La Quinta,
California; Arnold Palmer Motors in his Latrobe hometown
and Arnold Palmer Cadillac of Charlotte; and let’s not forget
Latrobe Country Club and the Arnold Palmer Invitational
sponsored by MasterCard at the fabulous Bay Hill Club and
Lodge in Orlando. (This year it was March 23-29).
Then there is this very magazine, Kingdom. The magazine
started as a way for “The King” to keep in touch with you and
the members of all the APDC designed courses. Now people
collect these luxurious keepsakes and signed copies are sold for
hundreds of dollars.
Yet for all his personal financial and business success it is
the money that Mr. Palmer has raised for charity that brings
him the most satisfaction. The Arnold Palmer Hospital for
Children, The Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies,
the Eisenhower Medical Center, and Arnie’s Army Battles
Prostate Cancer, to name but a few of the charities Mr. Palmer
has been involved with over the years, have all helped improve
and save countless lives.
A famous golfer, yes. But Arnold Palmer, Inc. is so much
more—even if it’s not in the business of ink itself.