Tees That Bind

Five years of the B.E./Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge has netted numerous business and personal relationships

potential business ally-Pepsi-Cola. The company made a favorable impression on the Grays with its presence at the Golf & Tennis Challenge in little ways, says Cheryl. Pepsi provided a path throughout the resort dotted with “cool spots,” coolers filled with chilled bottles and cans of Aquafina bottled water and other Pepsi-Cola products. “When you consider the Florida heat, this was not only thoughtful but also practical,” she says. The Grays also noted several other personal touches by Pepsi including the mini-coolers in each guest’s room filled with the company’s brands. “These sound like little things. . . but it convinced us Pepsi would be a viable candidate to approach to provide soft drink service to the theater and to become a sponsor,” she says.

After the event, Cheryl wrote to Cox, telling him how much she and her husband appreciated the attention Pepsi had paid to detail and guest comfort, and indicated their interest in Pepsi becoming a sponsor of the theater and a business partner. Shortly thereafter, the Grays received a letter from Mardi Woods, community relations director for Pepsi-Cola Detroit. Subsequent negotiations led to a five-year agreement between the two companies that could net the theater an estimated $500,000. Pepsi becomes the theater’s exclusive soft drink provider and a major sponsor, providing the small enterprise with a larger budget for marketing and strong program support. “This agreement will allow our theater to launch some exciting and innovative marketing campaigns in which Pepsi-Cola will play a major role,” says Cheryl.

In addition to American Express and Pepsi, the Grays have been successful with IBM, also a sponsor of the Golf & Tennis Challenge. Gaining sponsorship from IBM and Amex enabled the theater to begin computerizing its technical and service needs and provided theater goers the option of using their Amex cards at the box office. In addition, IBM is now supplying computers and software for the theater.

Business cards are passed along, phone numbers scribbled onto paper napkins and deals are being spawned, but what makes the Golf & Tennis Challenge little more than a business networking event? Well, it has enormous social appeal-offering culture, entertainment, food and games to indulge the attendees-with elements tailored for even the youngest participants.

“I’m bringing my six-year-old daughter and my mother for the first time. You see families and children connecting,” says Monique Cheeks, president of the Cheeks Agency Inc., an Augusta, Georgia-based entertainment and sports marketing firm.

Her husband, Eddie Cheeks, a physician, agrees. “You have several people that have three generations at one meeting and that’s unusual, especially in the African American community. Here we’re able to bring three generations of individuals to one place and everyone has fun.”

This year, Frito-Lay sponsored the Kid’s Kamp, which provides children ages three to 17 with a variety of fun and educational activities. They were offered golf and tennis lessons and Reebok provided aerobics instruction. Some of the more popular activities included “Teen Trivia,” B.E.’s version of Jeopardy, “Scavenger Hunt,” “Open Mic Exercise,” which allows the children

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