Three years ago, Epson partnered with Shaquille O’Neal to help save the world from the hassle of constantly changing printer ink cartridges. O’Neal became the face of the game-changing EcoTank, cartridge-free printers with supersized ink tanks.
That’s how a supersized O’Neal eventually found himself in Atlanta taping a video with the petite Rachel Rohanna to help announce Epson’s new five-year agreement as title sponsor of the LPGA’s official qualifying tour.
“I was a good 2 feet shorter,” said Rohanna. “I’m kind of used to looking up to people, but he held my golf club and it looked like a toothpick in his hand.”
The online commercial will be released on Wednesday across Shaq’s social channels. The former NBA superstar and TV regular has 24 million followers on Instagram, 15.6 million on twitter and 9.2 million on Facebook as well as his own reality show called “Shaq Life.”
Rachel Rohanna hangs out with husband Ethan Virgili and daughter Gemelia at an Epson Tour event. (Courtesy photo)
So far everything about the Epson Tour’s relationship with the LPGA has been next-level – from the little things like lowering the cost of entry fees by 10 percent ($50), to bigger things like guaranteed purses of at least $200,000 and $10,000 sponsorship opportunities for tour graduates. And, of course, Shaq.
Celebrities aren’t often associated with qualifying tours.
“I’ve been thinking about how we could get involved in golf for a long time,” said Keith Kratzberg, CEO, Epson America, Inc.
“There’s a lot involved with the various aspects of sponsorship. The charity aspect is a really important aspect of professional golf. … As a qualifying tour, we asked ourselves the question: What’s really important here?”
Players certainly appreciate the extra mile.
“I thought it was incredible that a global brand like Epson was kind of putting the money into the tour,” said Epson graduate Fatima Fernandez Cano, “and not only just saying, here’s some money, now you’re on the tour, go on with your life.
“They’re actually supporting us, supporting women’s golf.”
Rachel Rohanna and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal (courtesy of Epson)
Rohanna, the first mother to graduate from the Epson Tour, said it was intimidating to test out her acting skills for the first time in front of Shaq, but that he made their hour together “chill.”
“It always blows my mind that people have never heard of the Epson Tour,” said Rohanna, “formally the Symetra Tour. To have someone like Shaq … he’s a great guy in general, to have this many followers, and announce it and actually be enthusiastic about it, I think it’s great for everyone.
“It’s going to be huge.”
Rohanna invited Shaq to a pro-am and to visit the family farm in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.
“The way I’m thinking about it,” said Kevin Garton, Epson’s Head of Brand Strategy and Marketing, “is it’s just the beginning.”