SBD/Issue 131/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Woods Shares Little New Information In Sunday TV Interviews

Woods Conducts First Interviews
Since Car Crash In November

Tiger Woods yesterday conducted five-minute interviews with both ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman, his first TV interviews since the November car crash outside his house. Tilghman in her interview asked, "You went from becoming recognized as the greatest golfer in the world to becoming a punch line. How did that make you feel?" Woods said, "It was hurtful, but then again you know what, I did it. I’m the one who did those things and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it." Rinaldi asked him, "What's the difference between the man who left Augusta National a year ago and the one who is about to return?" Woods: "A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things have happened. . ... I've done some pretty bad things in my life. And uh, it all came to a head. But now, after treatment, going for inpatient treatment for 45 days and more outpatient treatment, I'm getting back to my old roots." When asked about the reception he expects from fans, Woods said, "I don't know. I don't know. I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you." He added, "It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there. But also hope they clap for birdies, too" (THE DAILY).

SO WHAT'S NEW? In San Jose, Tim Kawakami notes Woods yesterday "talked in general terms about his ongoing treatment and working on his marriage with Elin." He "didn't come close to crying or begging for sympathy," but he "admitted doing awful things and said his unspecified treatment will continue." Woods was "comfortable and conversational" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/22). ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote the interviews, "while admittedly a start," are "but water torture, with information dripping out." Still, "despite its brevity, a good bit of ground was covered in the ESPN interview" (ESPN.com, 3/21). The AP's Jim Litke noted Woods "yet again divulged few details about the crash, his marriage, his stint in a rehabilitation clinic or his personal life" (AP, 3/21). In Boston, Michael Whitmer writes Woods yesterday, "guarded, generally somber in tone, but keeping his emotions in check," repeated "many of the points he made in his televised statement Feb. 19: He's sorry for his transgressions, his treatment is ongoing, and he'll ultimately make amends through his actions, not his words." Woods was "occasionally forthcoming" in the interviews (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).

Woods Won't Replace AT&T
With New Sponsor On Golf Bag

THERE IS AN "I" IN TIGER: The AP's Doug Ferguson reported Woods "won't replace AT&T with a new corporate sponsor on his golf bag when he returns" at The Masters, instead using his Nike "TW" brand. AT&T dropped Woods as a sponsor on December 31 in the "midst of the infidelity scandal." It will be the "first time since he turned pro that Woods has used an existing sponsor's logo on the bag." Woods' agent, IMG's Mark Steinberg, in a text message on Friday said, "We are not actively pursuing new business partnerships at this point in time." Ferguson noted the "TW" will be the "fourth logo on Woods' bag in his professional career." Titleist held the spot from '96 until Woods partnered with Buick in '99. That deal lasted until '08, "ending early when GM filed for bankruptcy," and AT&T took over for last season (AP, 3/19). Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said, "People just want to sincerely know that he is sorry before they invest in him again. Sponsors: money. Fans: interest and awe" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 3/21). But N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said Woods "doesn't care about sponsorships. He doesn't care about anything. He cares now about reclaiming his place in golf" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 3/21).

BACK ON THE PROWL: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir examines the impact Woods' return to action will have on retailers under the header, "If Woods Plays Well, Retailers Will Smile." Golf and tennis retail chain Golfsmith and the New York Golf Center said that "at worst, sales of Woods clothing have dipped a bit." Golfsmith Chair & CEO Martin Hanaka: "When it happened, we didn't have deep inventories. Then we went to 20 percent off, and his stuff moved pretty well." NYGC salesperson Gary Lynch said that Woods' clothing line was "hurt because women were less eager to buy his $100 shirts or $130 pants for their golf-playing husbands." With Woods "not playing, the store's front display table could not lay out his popular Thursday-to-Sunday schedule of shirts." Lynch: "We were still getting Nike inventory, but it wasn't related to anything." Hanaka and Lynch said that Woods' "troubles had no discernible effect on Nike equipment sales, in particular the Victory Red club line, which includes an $899.99 iron." Analysts said that they "did not think the scandal had hurt Nike's golf sales." Golf Datatech co-Founder Tom Stine: "We don't have any evidence that people are going to be turned off to the brand because of him" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).

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