After Tiger posted a statement on his website apologizing for his “transgressions” in early December, EA Sports declared:
Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged. We respect Tiger’s privacy, we wish him a fast recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on the golf course.
But questions remained whether the company would move forward with the beta launch of Tiger Woods Online, which is set for later this month. A few weeks ago, EA Sports president Peter Moore confirmed it would move forward as planned and explained via his blog:
Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn’t form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm’s length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world’s best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come.
By his own admission, he’s made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history.
Now it appears the company is skeptical about its relationship with Tiger. According to Kotaku, a third-party survey was circulated with general questions and then Tiger-focused ones, like these:
EA SPORTS makes a Tiger Woods video game. Has the controversy made your impressions of EA SPORTS more or less favorable, or has it had no impact?
Has the controversy made you more or less likely to buy a Tiger Woods related video game in the future?
Surely the results will dictate how the company proceeds with handling the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which is scheduled to hit stores next summer.
To promote Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 last June, Tiger played the game with Jimmy Fallon in Times Square and again on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. After that very public PR campaign, it will be interesting to see how EA Sports tackles the marketing of Tiger Woods Online. I guess the game’s announcers, Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman, can stage a match in NYC. Or Phil Mickelson can stand in for Tiger. Or something like that.