Golf is a sport steeped in tradition and familiarity. Its stories live on for generations, and its legends define the sport as much as the sport itself. From a promotions perspective, it’s a pretty predictable format: don’t get in the way of the sport and the talent, showcase the things that make golf great, and tell your consumer when and where they can tune in to get their fix. Promo packages for golf have become just like the sport – traditional and familiar.
NBC Sports had just recently refreshed their Golf logo, and saw this as a great opportunity to take a fresh look at their packaging as a result. Enter Thornberg & Forester.
3D robots and flashy graphics are great for most sports, but not golf. We needed to find a hook that nods to the beauty and sophistication of the sport, while feeling fresh and contemporary. Interestingly, an old diagram served up new inspiration:
Generally speaking, background elements are often supporting graphics but in our package we used it as the focal point of the system. One of the most distinguishing aspects of golf are the beautiful courses found across the U.S. and Hawaii, as well as international locations like Mexico and Scotland.
The bird’s-eye view of golf courses led to the creation of abstract backplates that would be unique (new) and instantly recognizable (familiar) in relation to the overall brand system. Understanding different regions have different grasses and sands, we created multiple backgrounds that could represent NBC’s tournament schedule without being too course-specific.
We selected Los Angeles based matte painter and illustrator, Ron Crabb, to render over a dozen courses at large scale. The goal was to build photoreal artwork that could be used to represent any course, turf, or location, with special builds for iconic courses.
The artwork was created twice-up so it could be shifted and rotated, giving the network more opportunities for unique creative solutions while adding the ability to accommodate longer tournament names, the addition of last-minute sponsor logos, etc.
A texture toolkit was also developed so more course-specific backgrounds could be created in the future if desired.
The ‘stars’ of the new brand system are the player-centric end pages aired during game breaks to promote upcoming tournaments. Using photos that showcase the emotional peaks and valleys of tournament play, this element helps generate a greater connection with established and up-and-coming stars of the PGA & LPGA circuit.
Another unique challenge to this system are the numerous PGA & LPGA tournaments televised during the season. Our toolkit had to be an expansive and adaptive system, able to accommodate any tournament name length, sponsor logo or tune-in and platform viewing information.
Lower thirds are another part of the brand system that need to do a lot of heavy lifting in terms of being eye-catching and dynamic, yet flexible enough to accommodate a varied amount of programming information.
NBC Golf also wanted to introduce their new logo with our brand package. We noted the logo animation builds-on in three stages, so we pitched the idea of building promo closes in three graphic beats. This modular system becomes a three-part “story burst” that positions each narrative and launches viewers into promo messaging.
Story Establisher / A titanium-colored, tournament-specific photo that serves as a visual cue that the promo is transitioning into the end page.
Story Moment / An emotion-charged, vibrant color photo that serves as an exclamation point on what the promo is about.
Story Summary / The end page which instructs the viewer on when/where the event can be seen.
The new branding system combined with the story burst end page sequence provides a highly adaptable toolkit for creating both PGA and LPGA promos.
It was a great challenge and a lot of fun creating a bold, modern system for NBC Golf that made promo building easier without the end results feeling repetitive or looking one-note. Given the variety and volume of events the internal team produces during the season, an intuitive and comprehensive style guide is a must. This is an area in which we excel. In the end, we crafted a system that empowers NBC’s graphics and production teams to work quickly and intuitively, while having creative freedom and staying true to brand.