SBD/Issue 111/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Tiger Woods' Image Takes A Hit In The Court Of Public Opinion

Woods Has Fallen More Than 100 Spots In The
Davie Brown Index Since Accident In November
Tiger Woods was once in the company of celebrities like Bill Gates, Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby when it came to the court of public opinion, but he now finds himself ranked with the likes of Pauly Shore, Jon Gosselin and Steve O from MTV’s “Jackass.” Those rankings are based on data compiled by the Davie Brown Index, which tracks the public opinion of nearly 2,400 celebrities on attributes like trust, aspiration, endorsement. As of late Friday, Woods had fallen more than 100 spots in the DBI since his car accident in November, going from the top 10 to No. 121. In the endorsement category, he dropped from No. 11 and the ranks of Paul Newman and Morgan Freeman to Slash and Denise Richards at No. 2,250. His appeal went from the top 100 along with people like Frank Sinatra and Michael Jordan to No. 2,371, near Gary Coleman and Eminem. He once joined Hank Aaron in terms of trust, but now finds himself among Kid Rock and Andy Dick at No. 2,372. The largest drop came in the aspiration category. Woods used to rank in the top 10 along with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg. Now he’s at No. 2,411 among Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and John Daly (Jon Show, SportsBusiness Journal).

NUMBERS SPEAK: A national media study revealed that 60% of U.S. viewers found Woods' apology sincere. Viewers were split on whether Woods' statement changed their perception of him: 52% said their perception of him had not changed, 31% indicated their perception had changed in a positive way, and 17% said their perception changed in a negative way. Also, 64% of viewers said Woods' apology was sufficient. HCD Research conducted the study of 1,090 viewers on Friday using its MediaCurves.com site (HCD). Meanwhile, NPD Group Inc. released a study Thursday indicating that most consumers interviewed between December 16 and January 5 said that they "wouldn't change their buying habits toward products that Woods endorses because of his personal issues." Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer said that Woods' Q Score is "expected to drop from a 28 to a 20 or even lower." Sports celebrities on average have a 15 rating (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/20).

JURY'S STILL OUT: On Long Island, Neil Best wrote, "Did he take a first step toward rehabilitating [his image] before his handpicked audience in a sanitized environment?" The answer "seemed to be a qualified yes, but reaction ranged widely and wildly." Best: "From blogs to TV to sports talk radio to office cubicles, some saw Woods as a carefully coached phony doing what he must to repair his reputation and retrain what is left of his sponsorship portfolio. ... Others believed he said all he reasonably could be expected to, accepting blame and responsibility and adding unexpected flourishes, such as a return to his Buddhist roots" (NEWSDAY, 2/20). CBSSPORTS.com's Steve Elling noted Woods was "largely applauded for coming clean, expressing remorse and claiming he was going to do everything within his power as a disciple of Buddha to reincarnate what's left of his reputation" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/19).

SIMILAR TO ANOTHER FALL: The K.C. STAR's Whitlock compared Woods' fall to Michael Jackson's "descent into pop-culture weirdness." Woods and Jackson both "positioned themselves as racially transcendent superstars," but now "they're polarizing." Whitlock: "We don't know which direction Woods will head in the aftermath of his public comeuppance" (K.C. STAR, 2/21).

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