published Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Chattanooga ad gets national attention, falls short of selling golf clubs

Mike's Golf Shop - WE BUY GOLF CLUBS!

Fame doesn't equal fortune.

Mike Mixson, Internet sensation, knows that.

Mixson, who owns and operates Mike's Golf Shop in Chattanooga -- and L&M Music before that -- appeared on Comedy Central's "Tosh.O" Tuesday night because of his now infamous "We buy golf clubs!" commercial.

The self-shot advertisement is hailed as a work of genius, refreshingly authentic and an example of cutting-edge "selfytising" -- or using low-budget, cell phone selfie video for advertising purposes -- by national agencies Forbes and AdWeek.

As of Tuesday, Mixson's "We buy golf clubs!" ad had racked up nearly half a million YouTube views.

But he said all the hype surrounding the video, both positive and negative, hasn't actually produced dramatic sales improvement at Mike's Golf Shop.

"[The ad] hasn't actually benefitted me too much yet," said Mixson.

Jon Moss, digital marketing expert and operator of Moss Media Labs, said that result shouldn't be too much of a surprise to Mixson, or others.

"It doesn't always necessarily benefit you," he said. "Typically if an organization is looking to capitalize on something like this, they need to find a way to convert these views into an actionable item."

In the world of the Internet, there is so much content created on a daily basis, it's extremely easy for viewers to see a thing and, unless the road is immediately laid out for them, then click away and move on.

"If [Mixson] had some way of incentivizing people to sign up for a newsletter or go to a site and sign up for more funny videos -- or something to drive physical traffic into his store -- that could have obviously turned into something a little bit different than the result he ended up with," Moss said.

Mixson isn't heartbroken the masses didn't flood into his golf shop in the wake of his commercial. He said it was "just a typical Saturday morning" the day he shot it, iPhone in hand and donning a crumpled Tennessee Volunteers ballcap.

But it was, on some level, a calculated attempt to get out the word about Mike's Golf Shop.

Mixson is used to success, having turned L&M Music into a $5 million company. But Mike's Golf Shop has been slower getting off the ground, and he thinks the 2-year-old store is still 60 percent away from its peak.

To keep the golf shop growing, Mixson has been trying to think of ways to tell customers he's here, and that he really wants their business. So he turned to "selfytising" and the Internet, content to reinvent the idea of commercial advertising even at 52-years-old.

"The only way I knew how to do it," he said, "is go up to a beehive with a stick and hit it."

He got the buzz he was looking for. The "We buy golf clubs!" video immediately took off and was featured on drive time radio as far away as Los Angeles.

It also turned some influential heads.

"I got written up by Forbes magazine," he said.

But Mixson is still a small businessman, and he still needs to turn a profit. His celebrity is all for nothing unless it produces results where it counts -- in the wallet.

"It's not a success story," he said, "unless the golf business is a success story."

By the way, he's buying golf clubs.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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