SBD/Issue 71/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Golf Digest Suspends Tiger's Contributions, But Does Not Cut Ties

Woods Remains Playing
Editor For Golf Digest
Golf Digest is "loosening its ties to Tiger Woods, suspending his monthly instructional golf articles while Woods is on leave from professional golf," but the magazine "has not totally severed its connection with Tiger," according to Keith Kelly of the N.Y. POST. Golf Digest has an "exclusive long-term contract with Woods valued at $3[M] per year," and the publication "declined to say whether Tiger's compensation would be suspended." A spokesperson for Golf Digest publisher Conde Nast said that Woods "will remain on the magazine's masthead as Playing Editor." Kelly notes Golf Digest "suffered public embarrassment this month over a cover photo composite for the January issue that appeared to show Woods and President Barack Obama on a green together, with the cover line: '10 Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger.'" The magazine "has also been criticized by rivals for not writing about the Tiger scandal on its Web site, running only wire copy." Golf Digest's admission that it is "benching Tiger was buried in an editor's note" (N.Y. POST, 12/23).

BROKEN IMAGE: In Dallas, Cheryl Hall writes Woods' value now as an "advertising pitchman is pretty much nonexistent." The Davie Brown Index (DBI) "tracks and ranks precisely how the public feels about 2,400 celebrities," and it "ranks how trustworthy, influential, appealing and trendy we find big names." Woods was a "perennial on the DBI Top 10 ... at the outset of 2009," but he is "now 78th and ranks that high only because he's the most recognized person on the planet." In the latest poll taken on December 15, Woods ranked "2,252 out of 2,400 in appeal, 1,681 as an effective pitchman and 2,161 in trustworthiness." David Brown Talent President Jeff Chown: "Once the news of Tiger broke, we've tested him at least once a week to gauge consumer insights. He dropped immediately after the news broke the Friday after Thanksgiving. The second week was even more drastic. Now there's not much further he can go. Literally" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/23). Meanwhile, in Boston, Joe Dwinell noted multiple reports have indicated that Woods' wife Elin "wants half of her husband's $600[M] empire" in a possible divorce settlement. But sports image consultants said that if she "appears money-grubbing" in the wake of the scandal, Woods "will have won the public relations war -- at least with men." SportsCorp President Marc Ganis: "Watch how fast men's attitudes change. We're a very forgiving society" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/22).

CADDIE SHACK: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reported Steve Williams, Woods' caddie, Tuesday "got a public boost from his biggest sponsor," Valvoline. Ken Gordon, a spokesperson for Valvoline parent company Ashland, said that the brand's status with Williams "remains intact" despite the controversy around Woods and his indefinite break from professional golf. Gordon said in an e-mail, "Valvoline enjoys a long history as both a sponsor and technical partner in motorsports. ... We see no reason to waiver from our commitment to motorsports or Mr. Williams." Rovell noted Valvoline "not only has its logo on Williams' shirt for golf tournaments, but has also sponsored the race car [he] drives in his native New Zealand since 2003." Williams also is "sponsored by two of Woods' sponsors," Nike Golf and Tag Heuer (CNBC.com, 12/22).

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