SBD/Issue 64/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Accenture Becomes First Sponsor To Drop Woods

    Accenture Says Woods Is No Longer The
    Right Representative For Its Advertising
    Global consulting firm Accenture yesterday said that it has "terminated its sponsorship pact" with Tiger Woods after six years amid the controversy surrounding his reported extramarital affairs, according to Steel & O'Connell of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Accenture's brand is "among the most closely associated with Mr. Woods's image," and sources said that company execs "started evaluating its sponsorship of Mr. Woods immediately when the news broke" Friday that Woods will take an indefinite break from professional golf. Accenture in a statement said of Woods, "After careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising." Marketing experts said that of all Woods' sponsors, Accenture "may have had the most vulnerability to the publicity crisis." Woods was the "centerpiece of the company's business-to-business ad campaigns," and "many of the firm's advertisement slogans appeared archly ironic in light of Mr. Woods's admitted misconduct." One recent print campaign included copy such as, "It's what you do next that counts," "Opportunity isn't always obvious" and "The road to high performance isn't always paved" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/14). In Manchester, Lawrence Donegan notes Accenture is "reported to be paying Woods" $7M annually (Manchester GUARDIAN, 12/14).

    AN EASIER CALL THAN FOR OTHER COMPANIES: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell wrote Accenture's decision to drop Woods was "relatively easier" than it is for other companies because the relationship "involved a service instead of a product." The "direct revenue Woods brought to the consulting company wasn't as easily calculated as golf clubs, a video game or a sports drink" (CNBC.com, 12/14). NBC's "Nightly News" began its broadcast last night with news of the Woods-Accenture split, and Rovell said the company "relied on Tiger being as much a perfect man as it did a perfect golfer. That's where their advertising was going." Rovell: "Them coming out with a statement means a lot. It's not like they're going to go into airports, where their advertising was, and just take it down quietly and hope that you don't notice. They're telling you that they don't want to be associated with him. That is a big deal" ("Nightly News," NBC, 12/13).

    TOO CLOSELY TIED NOT TO DROP TIGER: TV WEEK's Chuck Ross writes given the "oneness between Accenture and Woods, the company had no choice but to cut all ties with him." The Woods-Accenture partnership was the "perfect melding of pitchman to how a company wanted to communicate its image." Woods was a "metaphor for Accenture, and a large part of this iconic campaign has been to portray Woods' great judgment as being the sauce that makes Woods so special and, by association, what makes Accenture so special." Ross: "In a real and material way, Woods has let down the people at Accenture, who not only paid him a lot of money, but who made a deep brand association with him in the belief that he was [the] person he claimed to be and who they -- and we -- thought he was" (TVWEEK.com, 12/14).

    THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG? With Accenture's announcement and Gillette planning to scale back ads featuring Woods, Global Sports Exec VP Robert Tuchman predicted that "more sponsors will 'jump ship' this week." Tuchman: "There just comes a breaking point. He had this wholesome brand image. That's gone forever" (USA TODAY, 12/14). Rovell: "This is the first kind of blow to Brand Tiger in terms of the business world" ("Today," NBC, 12/14). In DC, Tim Lemke noted the loss of Accenture "suggests that Woods has lost his luster in at least one section of the corporate world." Meanwhile, ads featuring Woods "have been scarce in recent days, but it's hard to know the reasons why, as he never had much of a presence on TV this time of year" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 12/13).

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Gillette Phasing Woods Out, Others Offer Support

    Gillette Says Phasing Out Of Woods A Way
    Of "Helping Him To Take A Lower Profile"
    Gillette spokesperson Damon Jones indicated that Tiger Woods "will be phased out from Gillette's television and print advertising" after stating he is taking an indefinite break from golf, according to Emily Fredrix of the AP. Gillette also will distance itself from Woods at "public appearances and other efforts linking the two entities together." Jones said, "This is supporting his desire to step out of the public eye and we're going to support him by helping him to take a lower profile." Jones said that "as any ads featuring Woods expire, they will not be renewed."  However, he added that "that did not mean the company was severing its ties with Woods." Nielsen has indicated that Woods "hasn't been seen in a prime-time television commercial since a Gillette spot" on November 29. Jones said that "that was because golf is currently in its offseason, so the company is promoting new products like Gillette Fusion MVP with football and baseball stars instead, because those seasons are more current" (AP, 12/12). Gillette Communications Dir Mike Norton said that displays that "already feature Woods's image in retail stores may be affected as well," but that the company "will continue using other sporting stars in its 'Champions' campaign." Norton: "The exposure of Tiger in the ads will be limited, but beyond that, if he was the focus of the ad, then we won't be using that ad" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/13).

    COLLECT CALL: In N.Y., Larry McShane reported AT&T, which "signed a deal with Woods earlier this year to put its logo on his golf bag," is "reconsidering its ties" to Woods. After Woods Friday announced his break from competition, AT&T "issued a statement offering their backing -- to a point." AT&T spokesperson Susan Bean: "We support Tiger's decision and our thoughts will be with him and his family. We are presently evaluating our ongoing relationship with him" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13). Tiger Woods Foundation President & CEO Greg McLaughlin, whose organization benefits from the PGA Tour AT&T National event, Saturday said that he has "spoken with representatives of AT&T, and the company will serve as the title sponsor of next July's tournament" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/13). GOLF.com's David Dusek noted AT&T "doesn't use Woods in advertising or feature him on its Web site." Meanwhile, even if AT&T and Woods parted ways, the company "would still have significant ties to golf." In addition to title sponsoring the AT&T National, the company is the title sponsor of the PGA Tour AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (GOLF.com, 12/12). Dusek today wonders, "This holiday season, will AT&T's association with Woods send holiday shoppers (especially women) to Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile for their cell phones? Possibly. You can bet AT&T will be looking hard for a negative Tiger effect" (GOLF.com, 12/14).

    Tag Heuer Says Woods' Personal
    Life Has No Bearing On Sponsorship
    OTHER SPONSORS STAND BY THEIR MAN: Watch manufacturer Tag Heuer said that it will "continue its association" with Woods. Tag Heuer spokesperson Mariam Sylla today said that the sponsorship is "unchanged because Woods remains the world's best golfer and Tag Heuer does not care about his private life" (AP, 12/14). Electronic Arts, which produces the "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" franchise of videogames, said that its strategy "remains unchanged." The game's next edition "comes out in six months" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/14). Meanwhile, Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott Saturday said that discussions "would be held this week about whether to continue running a Pac-10 TV ad that features Woods, who played at Stanford." The ad is "one in a series featuring Pac-10 athletes and coaches." Scott: "We're fortunate to have six rotations. ... We'll continue to rotate and have further discussions" (L.A. TIMES, 12/13).

    HOW LONG CAN HE SIT OUT? One agent said of the impact of Woods' indefinite break from competition on his sponsorship deals, "I'm guessing what Woods' people are thinking right now is, 'How long can we let him sit out so that when he comes back he still preserves the relationships?' His endorsements are all based on playing, but sponsors might not be so quick to exercise that clause. They know the man we're talking about, how he's done unthinkable things. They won't be so quick to quit on him" (GOLFWEEK.com, 12/11). Celebrity Marketing Inc. President Cleon Daskalakis said Woods' sponsors "know they need to downplay the relationship, but they also know he could return to where he was." Daskalakis: "So you don't want to walk away from him now, then have to compete against him, or try and re-sign him in a few years" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/13). Sports Business Group President David Carter: "You become a major part of the story if you terminate his contract right now, and I'm not sure that's something that you want. Instead you may be better off attempting to pull a Tiger Woods -- keep quiet as long as you can and hope another scandal breaks out to replace it." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Emily Steel notes pulling Woods from ads "doesn't necessarily terminate a company's official pact with the golfer, a step that also could carry risks should the scandal blow over and Mr. Woods return to his game" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/14). But CNBC's Darren Rovell said Woods' hiatus "alleviates some of the pressure from the sponsors," as they now can "essentially walk away" from their agreements. Rovell: "If Tiger Woods is not playing, they are not going to have marketing around him. So, it makes it a little bit more comfortable" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 12/12).

    Nike Has Reiterated Its Full Support Of Woods
    RISKY BUSINESS: Nike has reiterated its stance behind Woods, issuing a statement that "he and his family have Nike's full support" (Mult., 12/12). Nike Chair Phil Knight said there is "always a risk" when companies build brands around athletes, as Nike Golf has done around Woods. Knight: "One of the things we always try to do when we have a big endorsement is check out the character and the pattern of the individual. But you're not going to get it right all the time." Knight added of Woods, "Obviously, he was one we checked out and he came out clean, and I think he's been really great. When his career is over, you'll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/14 issue).

    INSIDE TEAM TIGER: NBC's Lester Holt yesterday asked, "Any sense of what's going on behind the scenes with Team Tiger tonight?" Rovell: "Mark Steinberg, Tiger's agent, said they're working for solution-oriented dialogue, and that basically means in agent-speak they're trying to save these deals. But ultimately, it's going to come down to the news cycle. How much more is out there?" ("Nightly News," NBC, 12/13). Steinberg Friday issued a statement that read, "As his agent and friend, I stand fully behind Tiger and support his decision wholeheartedly. What Tiger and his family need now is time away and private space so that they can recover from all that's happened and try to restore some well-being to their lives. The entirety of someone's life is more important than just a professional career. What matters most is a young family that is trying to cope with difficult life issues in a secluded and caring way. Whenever Tiger may return to the game should be on the family's terms alone. Although there has been considerable inquiry about Tiger's sponsorships, it would be both premature and inappropriate to comment on the status of specific business relationships. Suffice it to say, we have had thoughtful conversations and his sponsors have been open to a solution-oriented dialogue. Of course, each sponsor has unique considerations and ultimately the decisions they make we would fully understand and accept" (THE DAILY).

    CAUGHT UNAWARE: The Daily Beast columnist Gerald Posner said Steinberg is "furious" because IMG was "caught flat-footed, and especially shocked at the trail of reckless evidence" from Woods' personal life. Posner: "They are shocked also by the number of extramarital affairs" ("Today," NBC, 12/14).

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  • Tiger On Hiatus: Is His Image Irreparably Damaged By Scandal?

    Pundits Claim Scandal Has Caused Woods'
    Brand To Suffer Permanent Damage
    Tiger Woods is "done as a global marketing icon" following the numerous reports of extramarital affairs and his subsequent decision to take an indefinite break from professional golf, as his "carefully crafted image of once-in-a-generation transcendence is irreparably damaged," according to Drew Sharp of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Woods now is "just another guy perfectly capable of screwing up his life like the rest of us simple mortals," and he "might never fully regain the trust and support from those he betrayed through his self-destructive deeds" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/13). Premier Global Sports Exec VP Robert Tuchman said that Woods' brand "may have suffered permanent damage." Tuchman: "He should be able to play golf for a long, long time. But will this be something that people forget? Possibly, but I don't think so. He was branded as the perfect individual, the perfect golfer, the perfect competitor, the kind of guy with no chinks in his armor." Tuchman added Woods now is "going to lose fans forever" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). THE NEW YORKER's James Surowiecki writes the current scandal "has disrupted, if not shattered, this image of perfect control," and scandals that "conflict with a person's public image can wreak havoc." Surowiecki: "It's hard to think of a scandal that's more discordant with an image of focus and discipline than this one" (THE NEW YORKER, 12/21 issue). Woods' reputation as a "wholesome, stand-up kinda guy is burnt to a cinder" (London TELEGRAPH, 12/14). In London, John Hopkins writes of Woods, "Clearly he is not the figure that he once was and clearly he can never be again" (LONDON TIMES, 12/12).

    NO LONGER PERFECT PITCH: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote of Woods, "How in the world can he credibly pitch a product now? Certainly, things will turn around for him before too much longer, but there are a lot of people scrambling for alternatives now that they can't hitch their wagon to Woods' image" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/12). PR consultancy Ian Monk Associates Founder Ian Monk: "At the moment he is entirely damaged goods with no commercial value to sponsors whatsoever. He has remained invisible, and that's the last thing sponsors want from a brand ambassador: it makes you look guilty and scared" (LONDON TIMES, 12/14). Miami-based rbb PR crisis consultant Bruce Rubin said companies are "enormously sensitive to their audiences," and Woods was a "serial philanderer." Rubin: "He's no longer perceived in the same way. This'll be a big stain that'll haunt him forever" (MIAMI HERALD, 12/12). USA Today columnist Christine Brennan: "We are watching the greatest fall from grace, in my opinion, in the history of sports" ("Reliable Sources," CNN, 12/13). Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "If you’re going to be a punchline for bedroom bawdiness forever, I don’t think you can ever come all the way back” ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 12/13). Outside Eyes Partner Ben Porritt said Woods is the "best example of a walking, individual corporation." Porritt: "Tiger is going to come out of this as somewhat of a bankrupt brand. He will have to restructure and go forward. ... It's going to be an ugly few months" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).

    Nike Could See Holiday Sales Drop Among
    Women Due To Its Close Ties To Woods
    REASONS TO WORRY: The GLOBE & MAIL's Ian Brown wrote Nike "has good reason to worry" about being tied to Woods. Brown: "Would a wife still buy Tiger Woods apparel for her husband this Christmas? What would she mean by it if she did?" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/12). In Florida, Peter Kerasotis wrote, "I know Tiger Woods altered my perception in a positive way of Nike as a golf manufacturer. Even still, I don't think I ever bought a product because of him. That said, I can see myself not buying products because of him" (FLORIDA TODAY, 12/13). In Toronto, Garth Woolsey wrote, "Did you ever think you would see the day when major sponsors such as Gillette would shelve the world's most highly visible athlete for fear of acidic splashback?" (TORONTO STAR, 12/13).

    TIME TO SPEAK PUBLICLY: In N.Y., William Rhoden wrote Woods' announcement Friday that he plans to take an indefinite break from competition was "simply another carefully manicured statement shaped by high-priced image consultants and high-powered lawyers." Rhoden: "What should Woods say to a fan base led to believe ... that Woods is something he is not? Simple truth delivered in person, scars and all." If Woods' long-term goal is "restoring a semblance of credibility, he must look the public in the eye and give a brief State of Tiger address" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/13). In L.A., Michael Hiltzik wrote of Woods' apologizing and announcing his planned hiatus Friday, "Here's betting that he understands that this is only the first step toward recovering his public form." The comeback trail for Woods "has been blazed by many who preceded him," and what is "required is the public confessional" (L.A. TIMES, 12/12). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Woods faces a "massive image-cleansing process," and he "can't just show up on the first tee, months from now, and pretend nothing happened." Woods "needs to speak up, right out in public" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/12). But YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote Woods will "do his thing on his terms," and the public "will accept it." Wetzel: "No matter how many cries there are for him to go on television for some scripted mea culpa that never was the best approach. He's a golfer, not a politician or minister" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/11).

    THIS TOO SHALL PASS: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote Woods "already came back big after a broken leg, and he will come back from this, as bad as it seems for him right now, as badly as he has behaved." Lupica: "You never think the headlines or the front pages will end. Only they do. We had a President of the United States in the Oval Office, an intern in a blue dress under his desk for big fun. ... Now Bill Clinton is an international goodwill ambassador" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13). The S.F. CHRONICLE's Jenkins wrote Woods "needed the public and the gossipy Web sites to get past Thanksgiving night and move on to some other intrigue." That was the "first step of his recovery process, and he's quite nearly in the clear" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/12). Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom: "As long as he plays good golf and as long as he continues to win, one day we’ll be looking back on this and saying, ‘Wow, a lot of fuss was made considering where he is’” ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 12/13).

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  • Marketplace Roundup

    Sony Ericsson Says Title Sponsorship Of WTA
    Tour Remains Positive Despite Williams' Outburst
    Sony Ericsson said that its title sponsorship of the WTA Tour "remained positive despite Serena Williams's foul-mouthed outburst at the U.S. Open in September." The company's six-year naming-rights deal with the Tour expires after next season, and Sony Ericsson Dir of Global Marketing Partnerships Calum MacDougall said, "I think if you have a relationship like we have with the WTA, over a long time elements like this will happen because of the nature of sport." He added, "Overall the players have been very supportive of our sponsorship and they have been very engaging. We haven't taken a view on whether we'll continue or not but it is something we need to be looking at in the coming months." MacDougall said that there was "no temptation to switch focus to the men's game" (REUTERS, 12/11).

    PICK UP TRUCK: NASCAR driver Kyle Busch Friday formally announced plans to launch Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), which will field two full-time Camping World Truck Series entries next year "with Tayler Malsam driving the No. 56 Toyota and Busch and Brian Ickler splitting the No. 18." KBM also "would like to field a Truck for former series champion Johnny Benson, but the organization hasn't been able to obtain sponsorship" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/12).

    MAKING A COMEBACK: In L.A., Jean Yung profiles Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, who is "back on his feet" after being unable to compete in the '08 Beijing Games due to an injury. After his injury, the estimated $2M fee "per endorsement Liu reportedly earned from sponsors such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Cadillac, China Mobile and Visa shrank to $200,000." But this October, Liu "sprinted to gold in the most-watched 13.34 seconds of China's National Games," and the "level of adoration is approaching pre-Beijing highs." Nike "ran a commercial celebrating Liu's recovery and return so many times that the same ad played every few minutes and sometimes back-to-back during the event" (L.A. TIMES, 12/14).

    THIRST QUENCHER: Bills WR Terrell Owens has signed an exclusive deal with Blue Gem Enterprise to endorse its Title Sports Drink. The deal includes TV commercials, public appearances and product placement. Owens and the company agreed to delay active endorsement until after the NFL season (Blue Gem Enterprise).

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