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SBD/Issue 64/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing
Tiger On Hiatus: Gillette Phasing Woods Out, Others Offer Support
Published December 14, 2009
|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).