Dec
10
2009
Tiger Woods: No Longer the Best a Man Can Get
By Stephanie Wei under General

In less than two weeks, the “Chosen One” has swiftly fallen from his Teflon-like throne. Undoubtedly, the revelations have tarnished his once seemingly invincible, crystal-clean image. According to Bloomberg, Tiger’s ranking has dropped from 6th to 24th on the Davie-Brown Index, a scale advertisers use to measure the influence of personalities on consumer behavior. So, as one of the (formerly) most treasured endorsers of products ranging from Nike to Gillette, many (present company included) are naturally ruminating over how will this impact Tiger’s brand value and current/future sponsorships. I asked the Head of Marketing Strategy at a major sportswear company to share his thoughts:

Tiger lost an obscene amount of value as an endorser, and anyone who says differently doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  As these women keep coming out of the woodwork, he’s crossed well into the ‘punch-line’ range, and that’s when his sponsorship value goes from a steady decline to a falling off a cliff.  The mystique disappeared overnight, and you can’t get that back.

It’s also interesting that it’s coming out that he’s never really seen as a stand-up guy by journalists, philandering aside.  Now you hear stories about how his image is so meticulously crafted, and if a journalist asks a question that’s not entirely flattering, then he’s not given access anymore.  It’s telling that no one – friends, family –  is defending his character in public.  As a result, I think it’s going to be very very tough for his image to recover.

Having said all that, this doesn’t mean that companies won’t stand by him.  I think that some will, for sure.  As he closes in on ‘the record’, he’s going to draw a massive following, and there’s some value in that. from a sponsor’s point of view.  And until someone else exciting emerges in Golf, he’s sort of it at the moment.  Plus, I think it can generate some goodwill for a brand if they support someone going through a tough time.  You sort of want a brand to act like a friend, and a friend should stand behind you (unless the behavior was totally unforgivable a la Michael Vick.).

But, when it comes time to renegotiate the contract, as a sponsor I would make a very strong case that his value is tremendously reduced as an endorser.  You could probably conduct some research that shows that he now appeals to only 25% (for example) of his original fan base, therefore his value is only 25% of what it once was.  And Nike could probably convince him that it would be in his best interests to take a 50% pay reduction, but keep the public support of Nike (which will help him rebuild his image).