Three years into a six-year partnership with the PGA Tour, Eastman Kodak Co. is seeing success.

The company partnered with the tour beginning in 2008, with the deal becoming its largest sponsorship once agreements with the IOC’s TOP program and Penske Racing’s NASCAR and IndyCar teams expired at the end of that year.

Kodak uses the PGA Tour as a platform to promote its expanding product roster and to generate incremental sales from both consumer and business customers. It also relies on the sponsorship to reinforce its positioning as a leading player in digital imaging.

“Our sponsorships need to represent who we are as a company,” said Steve Powell, director of sports marketing. “They need to be innovative and creative.”

In addition to its status as official imaging provider and ownership of the category designations of official camera, printer and scanner, Kodak has branding on digital scoreboards at tour stops and hosts the Kodak Fan Photo Zone at 15 tour events. The consumer-engagement area allows the company to showcase products, distribute coupons and offer co-branded photos of attendees, which are coveted by fans given the PGA Tour’s restrictions on use of personal cameras, Powell noted.

The company also conducts the Kodak Challenge, a season-long competition that offers tour players the chance to win $1 million and the Kodak Challenge trophy. Thirty PGA Tour events feature a Kodak Challenge hole selected as the most picturesque and memorable on tour.

Tour pros must play at least 18 of the holes during tournament play to compete for the prize. A pro’s lowest score relative to par on each hole is recorded, with each player’s best 18 Kodak Challenge holes making up his Kodak Challenge score. The player with the lowest cumulative score relative to par wins the $1 million.

Kodak says the PGA Tour partnership has paid off on multiple fronts, specifically in what the company terms hard, medium and soft dollars.

Hard dollars. Kodak has generated incremental business by selling product to PGA Tour cosponsors.

For example, Callaway Golf Co. earlier this year ran a promotion that offered a free Kodak PlaySport video camera with purchase of a qualifying driver. The promotion ran at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc.; Golfsmith Int’l, Inc.; and other major sporting goods retailers.

“That’s one example of a number of places where we can count on direct revenue from our participation in golf,” Powell said.

The imaging giant also has generated direct sales from sponsors and tournaments for its new professional photography service. Similar to Kodak’s Event Imaging Solutions unit, which offers souvenir photo-taking services at theme parks and other events and venues, the new service takes photos of attendees playing in tournament pro-ams.

“They take pictures and print them on a Kodak Photo Book or load them onto digital picture frames,” Powell said. “Tournament directors love it because we have brought something new to the first tee photo. It’s a growing business, and its generating new revenue.”

Kodak also has gained new business for the photo-taking service from tour cosponsors. For example, MasterCard Inc. has used the service to take photos of guests in its hospitality suites.

Medium dollars. Kodak credits the PGA Tour deal with significantly strengthening ties to business customers.

“If a customer is considering a $500,000 printer, we can take them to a golf tournament and use our assets to build the relationship,” Powell said.

Results are not treated as hard dollars, as Kodak does not track incremental business generated by such hospitality.

“I don’t take credit if they end up buying a printer from us,” Powell said. “They made the purchase based on the merits of the product.”

Kodak tracks the overall number of customers participating in its golf program and their progress through the sales cycle. “We look at total aggregate business in the sales funnel and what comes out of the funnel,” Powell said. “We have hundreds of millions of dollars in potential business tied to our golf assets.”

Soft dollars. Kodak also tracks editorial coverage, TV exposure and impressions generated from the sponsorship.

“Those numbers have been outstanding,” Powell said. “We have garnered excellent visibility through our deals with CBS, Golf Channel and the Sirius XM PGA Tour Network.”

The company also is pleased with the amount of exposure received from the Kodak Challenge, Powell said, noting that the company earned mentions in roughly 200 articles prior to the last hole of this year’s Kodak Challenge in November.

The three-man playoff for this year’s Challenge raised additional visibility for the program, he added.