Published November 10, 2011
Fuse Science today announced a five-year endorsement deal with Tiger Woods
that is interesting for reasons well beyond the marketing rehabilitation of an athlete who once ruled the endorsement game. The deal covers both the sports nutrition and energy categories, the latter of which once provided Woods with a lucrative endorsement from category leader Gatorade. The structure of the Fuse Science deal is also intriguing since it is an equity deal, along the lines of those that built brands like Vitaminwater, which had dozens of athletes as owner/endorsers as it was building up its brand.
The other intriguing part of the deal is just how much exposure the relatively unknown Fuse Science will get out of the deal. “Powered By Fuse Science” will be emblazoned on Woods’ golf bag, a signage space once held by Buick but taken by Woods' foundation since the Buick deal dissolved in '08. The Fuse name will first appear on Woods’ bag at the Chevron World Challenge Nov. 30-Dec. 4. Fuse also has plans to market Tiger signature products, all of which are applied topically in droplets.
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"We see Tiger as a global brand ambassador for us, so for now in most cases he will be pushing the brand, rather than a particular product," said Fuse CEO Adam Adler. Adler said the Woods deal is overwhelmingly equity-based but also includes additional performance bonuses, which could include cash once certain targets are met. While Fuse Science’s technology currently is being used to develop energy and nutrition products, there is hope for exponential growth if the delivery system could be used for markets as large and diverse as analgesics and vitamin supplements or licensed to pharma and OTC brands. “Tiger’s never done a deal like this before, but we really believe in the technology," said Mark Steinberg, Woods’ longtime agent, from Australia, where Woods is playing in the Australian Open.
Also interesting are two of the individuals assisting Fuse in procuring athletes. They are Chicago-based Impact Talent Associates' Andrew Stroth, who has handled marketing assignments for Bears coach Lovie Smith and Eagles QB Michael Vick over the past several years, and former Champs Sports President & CEO Rubin Hanan. Steinberg said that inquiries seeking Woods' commercial services are "starting to approach the old days." Woods signed a Rolex deal five weeks ago. He also has endorsement agreements with Nike, EA Sports and Upper Deck. Fuse announced a deal with Texans RB Arian Foster last month and an agreement with Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber in September.