SBD/Issue 64/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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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