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394: How Topgolf is Making the Game More Accessible with Geoff Cottrill, Chief Brand Officer

Geoff Cottrill, CMO at Topgolf

Geoff Cottrill has been named one of Forbes’ 50 Most Entrepreneurial CMOs, one of Business Insider’s CMOs to Watch, and currently serves as the Chief Brand Officer for Topgolf. In this role, he leads all aspects of their global marketing, experience design, partnerships, consumer insights, communications, charitable giving, and retail and membership programs. He joined Topgolf in 2021 with a passion for building diverse and talented teams and a reputation for innovative thinking and creativity. Before joining Topgolf, he was Group Director of Entertainment Marketing at Coca-Cola, where he led the strategic vision for all marketing channels and sports entertainment properties. Before that, he was the General Manager and CMO for Converse, a division of Nike, and has also served in leadership roles at Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, and the global advertising agency MullenLowe.

In this episode, Alan and Geoff discuss what Topgolf is doing to drive diversity and fun in the sport, how their partnerships with the Special Olympics and their new Come Play Around campaign both serve this mission, and what aspects make up an effective campaign. They also talk about the future and culture of golf, how it’s evolving over time, and how they are measuring their impact on the sport with the mission of enabling players to hit 50 billion balls between now and the end of 2025.

Topgolf has an impact on every aspect of the golf world with three core businesses: venues, mobile games, and tracing technology. They employ over 30,000 playmakers working across their 91 venues, and they are adding 11 to 12 locations every year. Geoff tells us Topgolf is balancing respect for the history of the game while working to remove historical barriers, with the goal of more people falling in love with the sport, resulting in the growth of the game.

“I’ve built my career on seeing what everybody else is doing and then doing the opposite.”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The three core businesses under the Topgolf umbrella and how they all work together
  • How and why is Topgolf making the game more accessible?
  • The future of golf and what Topgolf is doing to ride the cultural wave

Key Highlights: 

  • [01:55] A Topgolfer but not a good golfer
  • [02:50] How Geoff got to Topgolf
  • [05:15] The three core businesses
  • [07:05] Who is Topgolf for?
  • [09:05] Becoming an officially sanctioned Special Olympics event
  • [11:30] The new campaign that is bringing more play to the world
  • [12:45] The elements of building a good campaign
  • [14:10] The future of golf
  • [17:40] Skaters are taking over the golf course.
  • [18:50] 50 billion balls?!
  • [20:00] Shot euphoria 
  • [21:45] Learning creative courage on the job
  • [23:50] Be more curious, less afraid, and nicer to people.
  • [25:00] The AI portion of the show
  • [27:25] QR codes won the pandemic.
  • [28:15] Keeping an eye on creatives and street culture
  • [29:30] The biggest threat? One word. Three Letters… Ego.  

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