Sports Marketing Update: Tiger Woods
Like everyone else, I am getting tired of hearing about the Tiger Woods saga. But, I feel like I owe it to our readers to write a follow-up to my previous post found here. Earlier, I talked about how Tiger needed to come out and say something asap. It turns out he waited because he knew what was going to be revealed. I still think that Tiger should have come out earlier, to say something and potentially calm the future blaze. Who knows what would have happened had he talked to police right away and made a public statement saying he had a little car accident. That’s all in the past now. But, now that he has said his piece, I do think it is time to leave him alone.
He made some very solid points while addressing the media about our society, and I agree with him. He came out, said what he wanted to say, and that should be good enough. It is sad that a private family matter has to also include constant press releases and press conferences by everyone that has ever had a conversation with Tiger Woods. Tiger and his family now should have a right to privacy so they can handle their personal issues and not have to worry about keeping the press and American public happy. But hey, this is the price you pay for celebrity, we all know that.
1 billion dollars and no privacy, or your current income and current privacy? It’s an interesting debate.
On to the marketing side. When all the rumors first came out, Tiger’s sponsors said they would stick by him. This was the right thing to do. Now that’s he’s “guilty” to something, how should they react?
I see dropping Tiger Woods as an endorser as a big mistake for any company. Yes, Tiger plays a sport which is based on integrity and honesty; but let’s face it, the only Integrity and honesty that truly matter are on the course. Every year we see five or so big named celebrities either cheat on their spouses (recently Shaq allegedly) or get in trouble with the law (Charles Barkley, Michael Vick). These celebrities and more specifically athletes, always recover. America is the land of second chances… and third chances… and fourth chances…
Here’s Tiger’s formula for a reputation fix (and potentially more wealth than he has now):
- Lay low and stay out of the spotlight for a while
- Slowly work his way back into the public eye, showing a new focus and devotion to his family
- Come back and play golf like he does, and win. This will all be forgotten by this time next year. I mean come on, this is America WIN BABY!
- In 12-18 months have an exclusive interview with Barbara Walters or Johnny Miller (interesting duo huh?) explaining your “previous immaturity and personal growth you have achieved and voila! Image cleared
This happens regularly and as long as you stay out of trouble, and you win it is amazing how quickly everyone forgets (see Kobe Bryant). Tiger even has the potential to have even more publicity upside than before. He can now triumph off the course as well as on the course. The public loves improvement.
Tiger’s sponsors should and probably will stick with him through this. Tiger is a once in a lifetime athlete who transcends time and geography and is followed by so many worldwide. You may have to phase him out for a while, but he will come blazing back with vengeance.
What will be interesting is when it becomes negotiation time for Tiger and his sponsors. Historically, after a PR flub like Tiger’s, sponsors will use it against them at the bargaining table hoping for a cheeper contract. Just think sponsors, you can hang around now, stand behind Tiger during his rough time and potentially save millions of dollars when you renegotiate his contract. Sounds like a good idea to me.
So Tiger… Just win baby! and it will all be fine.
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