Golf turns science fair: 3M uses PGA event to highlight its innovation – StarTribune.com
The title sponsor for the 3M Open couldn’t resist the chance to teach a few science lessons this weekend.
“The 3M Open is 7,468 yards of 3M science,” Collin Hummel, 3M senior manager of brand sponsorships, said in a statement. “3M is all over the course, from the moment fans arrive to on the tee boxes.”
With a national TV audience and thousands of in-person fans, the golf event in Blaine also draws a who’s-who in the regional business community.
Having naming rights for Minnesota’s only PGA Tour event is a chance for 3M to boost its brand. For a company with a complex portfolio of products and businesses, from bandages to industrial abrasives to films that make cellphones work, it takes an instructive approach.
“We show many of our products in many creative ways to actively engage event-goers,” said Jeff Lavers, 3M’s consumer business group president and interim head of the health care business. “This helps to capture their attention and pique their interest and curiosity so they’re drawn in to learn more — and they’re more likely to remember it.”
Many of the Maplewood-based company’s lesser-known products, like films and technology that play a behind-the-scenes role in everyday products or industrial processes, are highlighted with signs around the grounds of the TPC Twin Cities golf course.
A selfie-ready wall of opalescent butterflies was made with 3M’s dichroic glass finishes; an improved reflective coating applied to wayfinding signs was touted for its ability to reduce road accidents; and high-strength tape was used to improbably hold up chairs and swings.
Those waiting for shuttles back to the parking lot are kept cool in a shelter covered with a 3M film that is able to reflect heat as well as light.
Inside the 3M Science Dome — a hard-to-miss giant bubble on the edge of the 18th hole — robots, apparel, a scale model of a rocket and a virtual reality experience all highlighted the company’s industrial collaborations.
In all, more than 50 such “activations” are on display during the tournament.
Some of the company’s more recognizable consumer brands are on display in quirky ways — like a mini-golf course made of Post-it Notes and Scotch brand sponges, tapes and packaging material, which drew kids and adults alike on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re able to use our products to put on a tournament — not only to highlight our company, but to support a successful event and enhance the fan experience with hands-on and experiential moments,” Hummel said.
The 3M Open is in its fourth year and is back to a more normal fan experience after spectators were kept out due to the pandemic in 2020 and were limited in 2021. The company previously sponsored the 3M Championship from 1993 to 2018, which was part of the senior tour.
The cost of the naming rights for the 3M Open has not been disclosed; 3M paid $11.2 million for a 14-year naming rights deal for the University of Minnesota’s 3M Arena at Mariucci in 2017.
3M will report its second-quarter earnings next Tuesday. Analysts predict a $2.45 per share profit, which is an expected improvement over last year but a decline from the first quarter.