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SBD/Issue 64/Sponsorships, Advertising & MarketingPrint All
Accenture Says Woods Is No Longer The
Right Representative For Its Advertising
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).
Gillette Says Phasing Out Of Woods A Way
Of "Helping Him To Take A Lower Profile"
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
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
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).
Pundits Claim Scandal Has Caused Woods'
Brand To Suffer Permanent Damage
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
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).
Sony Ericsson Says Title Sponsorship Of WTA
Tour Remains Positive Despite Williams' Outburst
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).