I blew this one. In a blog post on December 1, I maintained that Tiger Woods’ value as a celebrity endorser would likely be impacted little by the fallout triggered by his traffic accident on Thanksgiving morning. That assertion was based on an assumption that his transgressions were limited in scope. We have since come to learn otherwise!
Now that Tiger has announced an indefinite leave from golf and the PGA Tour, sorting out the damage done becomes a bit easier. Three parties hurt by this situation are:
3. Tiger’s sponsors – Companies that have Woods under contract as an endorser are having to deal with the embarrassment of the situation, but their brands stand for more than Tiger Woods. The more heavily invested a company’s marketing platform is in Woods, the greater it will be hurt. Accenture is a sponsor whose marketing is heavily linked with Woods. On the other hand, Gillette has many other endorsers that it can shift focus toward and minimize its association with Tiger Woods if it chooses.
2. Tiger Woods – His brand image and reputation have taken serious hits, but not before raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsement earnings. And, there is the opportunity for redemption. While his brand equity in the marketplace may never return to pre-scandal heights, there is potential to remain a viable brand.
1. PGA and golf in general – The biggest loser is the PGA Tour. We have seen glimpses of what a Tiger-less PGA Tour is like when he missed time following knee surgery. TV ratings drop and event attendance declines. While some events hold star power such as The Masters and U.S. Open, many tour stops benefit from Tiger Woods being in the field.
Let’s hope Tiger Woods makes a comeback. He’s good for golf, but more importantly, his return to golf would signal progress in rehabbing problems in his personal life.