Bib Bondage

PGA Tour caddies filed a class-action lawsuit claiming they are sick of being unpaid sandwich sign board shills for the corporate sponsors of PGA Tour events. The caddies at tour events are required to wear the logo-covered bibs which bear the tournament sponsor’s moniker and are paid nothing in endorsement fees for this powerful marketing effort each week.

For months the caddies have been attempting to negotiate a deal with the PGA Tour that in lieu of being paid for this the tour would contribute money to a retirement and health insurance fund for the benefit of the caddies. Those talks broke down hence the filing of this lawsuit followed.

The tour sucks gazillions of bucks out of big corporate sponsors like Waste Management, Farmer’s Insurance, and A T & T for sponsoring PGA Tour stops. The signage for the sponsoring corporation is everywhere-in ads, on tickets, programs, placard signs around the course, and on the bibs of the 125 to 140 caddies that walk across TV screens with the players each week.

The only one seeing green from this each week is the PGA Tour

.
Considering that these events are covered for nationwide broadcast audience on the Golf Channel on Thursday and Friday and then the networks on Saturday and Sunday that is a lot of eyeball time for selling product. Every time the leading players commiserate with their caddies over club selection or putting line it is another 20 to 30 seconds of uninterrupted exposure of the sponsor’s corporate logo. What do the caddies get remunerated for their invaluable role in this marketing exposure ….bupkis ….nada …zilch….apparently not even a thank you.

In our area retail merchants are often prohibited by local governments from putting temporary advertising signs on the curbs in front of their stores. So they resort to hiring people with sandwich board signs across their shoulders to walk the highway median strips to do their marketing bidding instead. Apparently this kind of expression tied to a person has first amendment free speech protection along with monetary compensation.

Tim Finchem’s reaction to the suggestion that the tour should share the spoils of this marketing arrangement with the caddies, “Most people don’t understand the way a caddie/player relationship works…it goes back a long way. The player makes an arrangement with somebody to carry their bag …..and they work out a financial arrangement …..the historical process is the player handles that.”

He did explain that in spite of the fact that the Tour’s policy has been to never negotiate compensation with caddies, the tour does currently give caddies a $2,000 annual stipend for health insurance. Sounds like he is talking out of both sides of his mouth to me.

Tim has a seven figure salary, a Bentley of a benefits package, and a golden parachute to boot so he is probably not aware that $2,000 a year does not buy very much in the Affordable Health Care Market today. $166.67 a month is not buying a PPO Insurance Plan with major medical coverage for your dependents. Given how much time these guys spend out in the sun they probably need a melanoma rider that would cost that much.

Displeasure with this free marketing labor arrangement on the tour is not recent. Steve Williams, the caddie for a decade plus for Eldrick Woods, used to pull off his bib and ball it up in his fist as soon as Tiger’s putt crossed the lip of the final hole. For all the winning that Tiger did on Steve’s watch Williams became one of the most highly paid sports figures in his home country of New Zealand. But even he sensed he was not getting his fair share of the weekly entertainment take and was adamant about expressing that displeasure.

Most of the caddies on tour barely make enough to make ends meet, not many are going into early retirement to live off of their stock portfolios. It seems only fair that since they are such an ever present element of the presentation of golf on TV they too should get some benefit from being an accessory to marketing the product.

.
February, 2015

2 thoughts on “Bib Bondage

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s