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Kai Ryssdal: The first big golf tournament of the PGA season is underway in San Diego. And a big golfing outfitter, the company Callaway, has some new ads on display. They’re masterminded by none other than Justin Timberlake. Apparently J.T. can sing, dance, act, direct and — golf. But can he sell clubs? Marketplace’s Eve Troeh reports.
Eve Troeh: So the new Callaway golf ads are not a remix of this:
Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack”: I’m bringing sexy back.
With Justin Timberlake twirling a five-iron in a dance club. Timberlake’s role is more impressario, mixing with the pros who already sell Callaway. An online video shows him swinging a new driver.
Video: I’m sorry, but that’s just sexy.
Timberlake’s only played golf about eight years, but he’s a solid six handicap with his own PGA tournament in Vegas. Vegas is where the new Callaway ads are set. It’s Timberlake’s concept. Pro golf icons tee off the rooftops of famous hotels. Morningstar Analyst Pete Wahlstrom says other celebrity fan boys have represented sports.
Pete Wahlstrom: The one that really comes to mind would be Spike Lee with Nike.
Commercial: Do you know how I get up for my game? Do you know, do you know, do you know? That’s right, Air Jordan.
Wahlstrom says MTV did it for years, with its series called “Rock N Jock.” Sports economist Dan Rasher says golf needs some kind of boost. Playing is down 30 percent since the recession. And 20-somethings are not buying clubs the way they did when Tiger Woods first hit big.
Dan Rascher: Because he was young, and he was dominant, and he was fiery. So he created a huge fan base really fast.
Dominant, fiery, huge fan base — those certainly apply to Justin Timberlake. And with no young, hot, American golf star on the scene, why not pick a star who happens to love golf?
“SexyBack”: So turn around and I’ll pick up the slack. Take it to the bridge.
I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.
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