Topgolf Original Series: Q&A with Creative Director Chad Nelson
When it comes to Topgolf, though golf may be in the name, it is just one aspect of this inventive global sports entertainment community’s multi-faceted approach to curating entertaining experiences. They’re reaching beyond their over 50 locations into the streaming space, producing several online series that connect to the heart and soul of what Topgolf is all about: good food, good music, and having a good time.
Brand Storytelling interviewed Topgolf Chief Creative Director Chad Nelson to learn more about Topgolf original series, the impetus behind producing those series, and what others can learn from Topgolf’s experience in the content arena:
The Topgolf YouTube Channel is home to many series - What Topgolf shows are currently airing/in production, and what inspired the choice to create and operate a channel with multiple Topgolf programs?
We launched Season 2 of Who Will Rock You on March 28. The show - which is about the search for American’s next supergroup - is our most successful series to date with over 350 million impressions and 25 million views. Season 2 is bigger and better - we’ve increasing the number of episodes, number of bands, featuring bigger songs and partnering with BMG as our music label. Now the winning band will earn $50,000, an exclusive development deal with one of BMG’s labels and headline the new Topgolf Tour. In addition, we have a number of other shows slated for production this year and are excited to announce a diverse mix of original series that speak to audiences interested in everything from food and lifestyle to sports and entertainment.
Topgolf is the epicenter for engaging entertainment experiences – it’s not just about playing golf. The impetus behind Topgolf Media and to operate a channel with multiple programs is to elevate the consumers’ experience beyond our venues, creating original content series whose touchpoints speak to, engage and connect with audiences’ passions.
Topgolf series seem to center around the kinds of experiences you can have at Topgolf beyond hitting the ball, like food and music. Tell us more about shows like Chef Showdown and Who Will Rock You. What are the benefits and differences of each?
Topgolf exists to bring people together in meaningful ways. Clearly we do this through sport and/or play… but what brings people together from all walks of life better than food and music? Thus, we built 2 content series around that idea that Topgolf is bringing people together through these different storytelling pillars – Topgolf Chef Showdown and Who Will Rock You.
Everybody loves a good competition – both Topgolf Chef Showdown and Who Will Rock You bring authentic and fun challenge to its show participants. They also offer visibility throughout the process, and ultimately for the winners, a named menu item at Topgolf venues across the nation and/or a record deal with a major label as well as headlining the new Topgolf Tour. While there are similarities between the two original series, the differences are subject matter which speak to our belief that Topgolf is more than driving or putting – we’re about bringing larger and more diverse entertainment experiences to consumers.
What do you think other brands can learn from your experience in this content creating space? What advice might you offer brands looking to create content around their business?
When we formed Topgolf Media we set out to produce shows that leverage our company DNA – food, play, music and community – and offer authentic entertainment experiences with audiences worldwide. My advice to brands considering entering the content arena is to focus on stories that echo and expand your brand’s ethos – I caution that content development should not be just another checked box in a company’s marketing plan. Equally important is to develop relevant and entertaining shows that translate into a vibrant and engaged community. And finally, one of my personal philosophies is, “if I wouldn’t share it, why should we make it?” Because in today’s day and age, a brand must tell its story with a truly genuine and authentic lens. Otherwise, the audience will see right through it and scroll right by.
About Chad Nelson
Chad Nelson serves Topgolf Media as Chief Creative Director following Topgolf Entertainment Group’s successful acquisition of World Golf Tour (WGT), the world’s largest golf website and mobile golf game, which he co-founded in 2006. At Topgolf Media, Chad and his team tap their entertainment and tech expertise to create digital experiences, original content series and interactive games for the Topgolf community.Under Chad’s leadership, WGT grew from zero to 14-million players, bringing console-quality graphics to web and mobile platforms. WGT was one of the first U.S. games to leverage free-to-play in-app purchases and in-game native advertising. Prior to WGT, Chad served on the executive team of WagerWorks (NYSE: IGT) as Studio Head of original content development. While at WagerWorks, he helped launched several gaming channels, including Virgin Games, World Poker Tour and Hard Rock Casino before the company was acquired by IGT in 2005.Chad graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Westmont College and lives in San Francisco with his two boys.