Have You Herd – Looking Back to Escape Forward

It’s been a month since the calendar unceremoniously flipped from 2020 to 2021.  Celebrations, tempered by the intensity of the pandemic that has gripped us for the better part of a year, toasted a look forward and promise to never think about the year we just left behind.

But that simply is not possible.  The NHL and NBA started new seasons still with no fans.  MLB will likely do the same. The NFL is about to crown last year’s champion in front of only a few.  The PGA Merchandise Show, which for us in the golf industry signals the official start to the new season, took place in Zoom enabled “booths,” entirely online.  We are all craving a clean break, an opportunity to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and move toward a vaccine-induced bright light at the end of the tunnel.

The hope of a new beginning is at best a moving target and the future we are moving toward is very different than the past we have left behind.  We work differently.  We play differently.  We communicate differently.  We energize differently.  We consume differently. As such, the landscape for brands, and marketers, has changed forever.

Buffalo Groupe, along with Buffalo Agency and the other properties in its Collective, has undertaken much self-reflection amidst the changing marketing world.  As a company built on the premise that the “golfing life” is a powerful marketing environment, we cheered loudly as golf was deemed an essential part of coping with, and eventually recovering from, the pandemic.

Golf led the way toward a renewed priority for time outdoors.  With offices closed and work arrangements turned flexible, golf welcomed old and young into its natural theatre where social distancing practices are the rule, rather than the exception.  No longer an escape from something, golf became a destination to escape to.

As we experienced this resurgence of the greatest game on earth, Buffalo Groupe applied the lessons learned and evolved our understanding accordingly.  We refer to this new point of view as “Escape Marketing” and one of the few bright spots about by COVID-19.  Specifically (from BuffaloGroupe.com)…

For all that they have given us, modernity and technology come with a cost. Stress, anxiety and fatigue fuel the need for escape.  
Escape is defined on our own terms — hiking, fishing a favorite trout stream, cocktails with a spouse, a getaway to a mountain home and of course, golf with friends.
It is an environment or state of mind that is personal, yet its effect is universal – a path to our better self. 
Escape energizes us, feeds the body, nourishes the mind, elevates the spirit. And our need for its restorative powers has never been greater. 

There is no sugar coating 2020.  It was awful.  I never want to experience anything like that again.  But as I look forward to what the world looks like post-vaccine, I don’t want to forget some powerful lessons learned in an otherwise horrific year…

Don’t run away – connect.
Don’t react – be in the moment.
Be pure, not fake – authentic and not fabricated.
What taxes us emotionally can eventually reward us; what exhausts us can also exhilarate.
It isn’t about winning or losing, but simply becoming the best version of myself that I can be.
Escape to, not from. 

Here’s wishing everyone the best for a happy and healthy 2021.  I can’t wait for hugs, fist bumps and plenty of golf this year.

– Kyle Ragsdale, CEO, Buffalo Groupe