The johnnie-O Read

Ok, this is the johnnie-O read[1].  No need to scrub forward through this one—you’ll want to hear it.  Many of us have probably noticed that a lot of the podcast sponsors seem to be of a similar ilk and that, often, you may listen to your favorite personality and hear the same promotional code or copy for weeks at a time[2].  What do you do if you’ve already shown your loyalty to the brand and personality?  (Still reading?  If so, we at the Tony Kornheiser Show are happy to announce a partnership with johnnie-O that will look slightly different.)


I first saw the surfboard-in-hand logo of johnnie-O on some golf shirts a few years ago and didn’t know where to place it: Should I place it in the category of “another golf shirt steps onto the tee”? Was I already too old to tee it up from the tips with the kids, needing to “tee it forward” by sporting something seemingly more appropriate for my age?  Dad and I started doing more research after playing a round of golf with a friend of the brand in the Chicago suburbs[3] this past summer—when we were still adrift with no surfboard, paddle, or partners—who talked to us about the brand’s growth and gave us a golf shirt to bring back to DC[4].  Throughout that day on the course, we couldn’t help but notice how their growth within the crowded menswear category was what we wanted to see with our show’s move to the on-demand audio market: the path only became clearer as we learned more about the thinking behind the “west coast prep” mentality, the brand’s relationship with the MLB—hey, we love baseball, not just golf—and through the sheer volume of intersections between our network of friends and the brand’s founder, John O’Donnell[5]

Sure, at first glance, you might assume (like I did initially) that johnnie-O is just another buttoned up polo shirt company.  The west coast prep balance of traditional elements from those Chicago suburbs combined with the more laid-back vibe of California actually matches much of my dad’s background and the influences on his show.  No, he didn’t grow up wearing the perfectly rumpled navy blazer paired with the right driving moccasins[6], nor did he surf the California beaches[7]; but, he is not just the polo-shirt-wearing country club guy that some might think he is through his stories.  His growing up on the south shore of Long Island and interest in that California lifestyle—we all know that he’s wanted to live just off of Wilshire Boulevard his entire adult life and has even picked out the house[8]still comes through when he’s off the golf course.  He’s just as happy switching from a button-down at dinner to a tee shirt when playing with Chessie.  Wouldn’t it be nicecue the Beach Boys—if johnnie-O even has some modern riff on the Pendleton shirts so we can really bring Mr. Tony back to the 60s?


I don’t have a lot of experience in sales, but I recognize how clear, personal investment translates to the audience. We’re going to try something new by having a more fluid partnership with johnnie-O, one that allows us to bring in the brand when appropriate and one that encourages more communication between partners.  Our goal[9]?  We want a partner to appreciate that our listeners are incredibly loyal and engaged.  So, to reenergize our listeners with johnnie-O, we are reinstating the TonyK promotional code.  Go ahead, activate your tweener like Cillizza or try a new “prep-formance” golf shirt.  We’ll be working on ways to change codes to recognize some of the insider phrases from the show and create new promotions to help you represent your favorite baseball team this spring with some gear or find the perfect gift for a friend, so keep us posted with your photos and stories.

[1] Tony likes to go off script at the start of most of our live reads.  I’ve decided that the crutch, starter phrase, OK, this is the __________ read, gives him the energy to carry through that 60-second spot; it may also just serve to remind him of the product he’s endorsing.

[2] Go ahead and insert an adjective to describe your own experience with that copy—make it your own!

[3] For the golf historians: we played Shoreacres, a wonderful, old-school Seth Raynor just off of Lake Michigan with one of the more impressive Biarritz’s (6th) and picture-perfect Short’s (12th).

[4] Looking back on his generosity, I now wonder if he just saw early failure written on our new enterprise and wanted to make sure we kept our literal shirts in the enterprise.

[5] Steve Sands! Sands came to visit the show in late October after stopping by DC for the Calvert Woodley Bordeaux tasting dinner and told us about how he had met johnnie-O himself in LA years ago.

[6] That additional visual would have made the driver’s ed. story.  Tony still swears by his account, though there has been some debate about its veracity.

[7] Let’s be honest: he was barely allowed in a row boat at Camp Keeyumah and we know he won’t go into any body of water past his shins.

[8] South Camden Drive—we probably shouldn’t admit to anything beyond that extra detail.

[9] Yes, there are other goals than just uttering Steve Young’s phrase, “send me a box.”