SBD/July 19, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Tiger Woods' Marketing Appeal Seems To Be Quietly Gaining Momentum

Tiger Woods' sponsors Fuse Science and Nike receive hours of camera time during play
Tiger Woods' marketing appeal "means something different in 2012 than it did in 2011 and certainly different from 2010,” and “quietly, almost imperceptibly, his brand has recovered,” according to Eric Adelson of YAHOO SPORTS. The phrase, "Go on, be a Tiger" was Accenture's marketing slogan for Woods while he was an endorser, but it “became a punch line” after his infamous Escalade accident in Nov. '09. But these days the phrase is “more palatable -- at least on the golf course.” The phrase “doesn't make us cringe the way it did,” and that is “significant.” Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said, "He was an 11 before (2009) on a 10-point scale. He transcended his sport. He moved the needle. After the car crash, I'd put him at a 3. He was pretty much tainted as a marketing vehicle. I'd say he's back to a 7 or an 8." Adelson noted Woods before the scandal “could endorse any product -- inside or outside sports.” Now performance companies, like Fuse Science and Nike, are "not only getting the benefit of hours of camera time this weekend at the British Open but also the fairly safe assumption that Woods will not embarrass the brand on the course.” Swangard said, "Endemic sponsors like Nike are still with him. They can sell against that brand equity. What we saw with Kobe (after being accused of rape in Colorado), as soon as he was out there throwing 82 points down, Nike was able to monetize that." Woods is “gradually ceasing to be reflective of anything other than golf.” That was a “bad thing for years, as his marketing meaning was corroded permanently,” but now it has “become a good thing” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/18). Woods' current sponsors, in addition to Nike and Fuse Science, include Timex, Upper Deck and Electronic Arts (THE DAILY).

TOO HARSH? Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” discussed whether the media has been too harsh on Woods. Golf Channel’s Gary Williams said, "No ... He has the most unusual relationship of a player in the media in the history of golf. But there are a lot of positives that come with it. He is the only one that gets a ‘Tiger Tracker.’ There’s no ‘Bubba Tracker.’ There’s no ‘Phil Tracker.’ There are times that yes, can they be hard on him, but in general, no.” Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz: “If Tiger played golf as well as he played for the last 20 years and there was no media, Tiger would be on our salary, basically. He would win a lot of money in purses, but the media made him a ridiculously wealthy person by exploiting his fame. Are they too hard on him? Maybe sometimes they go one step too far, but that's part and parcel with the territory” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 7/17).
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