SBD/Issue 59/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Men Unlikely To Turn Back On Tiger As Endorser Due To Scandal

Woods' Corporate Partners Sticking With Him,
Believe Core Fans Won't Be Affected By Affairs
If there is "one thing" that is clear thus far during Tiger Woods' ongoing scandal involving numerous reports of extramarital affairs, it is that his "corporate partners have his back," according to Peter Keating of ESPN.com. Woods "resonates with golf fans who admire him and want to be like him, and most of them are middle-aged and upper-income men, or young men who aspire to be upper-income by the time they're middle-aged." Keating: "Whatever they say in public or at the dinner table about how Woods has behaved, those men are not likely to turn their backs on Woods for reportedly messing around with women. And as they go, so go the companies that sell to them." Dig Communications President Peter Marino: "Tiger's fans are male consumers, and his sponsors are companies trying to reach those consumers, not married women or soccer moms." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis: "Some women, and for that matter, some concerned men, may be indignant. But which of the men who work for any of Tiger's sponsors is going to be the first to stand up and throw stones? Anybody who did that would put himself and his own company under tremendous scrutiny" (ESPN.com, 12/4). In S.F., Gwen Knapp wrote Woods' sponsors "have little reason to pull back," as his "core fans won't let the state of his marriage affect their fascination with his game." The "wider audience will probably let go of any naive disappointment and simply wallow in the drama of the scandal." But in the future, "instead of painting him as a paragon, his handlers might try something more honest" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/6).

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz wrote while Woods has "built his image around many values," Christian morality is "not one of them." IEG Chair Lesa Ukman: "It's not like it's a crisis of hypocrisy." Meanwhile, Ukman said of Woods' relative silence amid the controversy, "The sponsors will definitely be telling him and his people, 'you have to stop this now, you have to get up front, you have to become proactive in how you deal with this'" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/5). Fortune magazine's Adam Lashinsky: "In most instances these people aren't paying Tiger Woods to support their products with the message, 'He's a great guy, be like him because he's such a wonderful person.' It's that he is so excellent at what he does, and you use our products and you'll be excellent at what you do. That is the message. Nothing he's done so far is inconsistent with that. Unless this gets a lot worse, they'll probably keep paying him for it" ("Cavuto," Fox Business, 12/4). ESPN's Colin Cowherd said Woods "has never sold family. He's always sold performance." Cowherd: "He has always sold, 'I am elite.' Brett Favre sells, 'I'm one of you.' Tiger's like, 'I'm up here. Come and join me if you can'" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 12/4). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Jon Show cites marketing experts as saying that Woods now has an "opportunity to create a new image and become a more fan-friendly everyman" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/7 issue).

Pulling Tiger's Products Off Shelves
Would Cost Endorsers Like Gatorade
MORE THAN WHAT IS ON THE SURFACE: Sports marketer Kim Henning, who has signed athlete endorsers in the past, wrote, "We’re not talking just commercials here. ... We’re talking whole product lines. Try to fathom the number of zeroes in the cost to Gatorade to pull the Tiger drink off the shelves. Imagine the gnashing of teeth at Nike’s offices as they contemplate the impact on The Tiger Woods Collection of apparel at thousands of retailers ... and right at the beginning of the holiday shopping season, no less." She added, "Might the whole thing blow over in time? History would suggest it will. ... But the pedestal on which Tiger stood was very high. And that could make the fall more damaging" (KIMSBIGCHAIR.BLOGSPOT.com, 12/5).

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Woods’ situation was predictably a focus on this week’s episode of NBC’s “SNL.” One skit began with Woods, played by Kenan Thompson, holding a press conference. Woods had a band-aid on his face and was standing next to his wife Elin Nordegren, played by guest host Blake Lively. He said, “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. … I offer my profound apologies for these multiple transgressions.” Nordegren: “Multiple? So it happened more than once?!” Woods: “Did I say multiple because…?” At this point, the scene cut away to a “Breaking news” alert from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, played by cast member Jason Sudeikis, who said, “This just in: Tiger Woods is back in the hospital. Apparently, just hours after a press conference where he confessed to multiple transgressions, Woods had an accident in his home where he fell down a flight of stairs, then inadvertently threw himself through a plateglass window.” After several similar happenings, Woods read from a “prepared statement” that had writing on the back of it that was only visible to the audience that said, “Help me” and “I’m scared.” Later in the show during the “Weekend Update” news segment, cast member Seth Meyers said, “So Tiger cheated on his wife with multiple women in multiple cities and then he was involved in an alleged domestic violence incident and a car accident. How can anyone say golf isn’t a real sport? … So far Tiger’s sponsors are standing behind him, a gesture that can only mean one thing: Women don’t watch golf" (“SNL,” NBC, 12/5).

MORE LATE-NIGHT FODDER: NBC's Conan O'Brien said, "We've come up with so many Tiger jokes, I don't even know which ones to use. Frankly, I could use a little guidance, so I hired a Tiger Woods joke caddie to help me. ... Tiger Woods' wife is renegotiating her prenuptial agreement. The rumor is she could get $80(M), which is ironic because the only other person who ever gets that kind of money for swinging a golf club is Tiger Woods. ... One of the women who claims she slept with Tiger Woods says he never talked about golf during sex. However, he did keep his head down and his left arm straight" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 12/4). ABC's Jimmy Kimmel said, "What I would do is I would just lay it all out there. I'd go on TV and I'd say, 'Listen, I had sex with some waitresses, which felt good for a few minutes, but definitely wasn't worth the hundreds of millions of dollars it could cost me. So from now on, if she decides to forgive me and I hope she does, I will only be having sex with my wife. And then in my free time, I will look at naked videos on the Internet after everyone in the house goes to sleep. Like every other American male'" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 12/4). 

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