Business of Tiger Woods: Six months later
Thursday marks the six-month anniversary of Tiger Woods’ car accident, leading to the revelation of his affairs.
With the half-year mark upon us, we take a look at Brand Tiger and the companies that are and were affiliated with him.
It will be challenging for Tiger Woods to reach the marketing dollars that he made before all this went down – an estimated $100 million a year.
He lost his deals with Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade and he lost the right to make a premium on future deals being completely risk free.
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The future will very much depend on whether he can return to his old self and win.
America loves the comeback story, but it will be interesting to see how long it will take. So far he has only played in three events, finishing fourth in the Masters, missing the cut at Quail Hollow and withdrawing during the final round of The Players Championship after having an inflamed joint in his neck.
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg tells me that, at this time, “we are not initiating extensive discussions on additional endorsement opportunities.” But that does not mean that opportunities haven’t come.
“There has been a number of legitimate opportunities that we’ve had and of course some that are not legitimate that we haven’t even engaged in,” Steinberg said. “When the time is right, we’ll engage in discussions with those companies who are interested, but we haven’t decided on when that might be.”
Aside from the much publicized ad featuring Woods’ late father Earl around the Masters, Nike has done little with Woods as other endorsers including Paul Casey and Justin Leonard have been given top billing both in advertising and on the Nike Golf website. In fact, Nike didn’t even mention Woods during its entire investor conference earlier this month. Nike Golf sales were about on par with last year’s sales through the Masters, but partly due to the fact that brand is coming out with less product with Tiger out of the fold, sales are down 20 percent since the Masters (as compared to last year), according to Matt Powell, analyst for SportsOneSource, a market retail tracking firm. Nike spokesperson Beth Gast would not comment on what its future plans with Woods might be.
The game of golf has clearly suffered without Woods, who has played in two fewer PGA Tour events than he did through this time last year. Nielsen data shows that an average of 3.8 million viewers have watched the PGA Tour finals rounds airing on broadcast television this year. That’s a 15.5 percent decrease from the 4.5 million viewers that watched the same rounds on Sundays last year.
Tiger’s deal with Electronic Arts has hardly changed. EA released its online game the week of the Masters and EA spokesman David Tinson reports that 4.2 million rounds have been played in the last three months, with the average player playing 2.1 rounds a day. “We’re encouraged by the trends we’re seeing and continue to invest in bringing more experiences like this online as the business continues to transition to digital.” Woods will still be the main endorser behind Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’11 that hits shelves on June 8, although he will share the cover with Rory McIlroy.
Woods’ advertising has been pulled from watch retailers in the United States, but that isn’t the case around the world. In February, Tag Heuer’s president and CEO Jean Christophe Babin told the Sydney Morning Herald that its use of Tiger in China increased because “in China, by tradition, your success is measured by your number of mistresses.” Earlier this week, Babin told a publication called Daily News Analysis that the watch brand will begin using Tiger in Europe again in the near future.
Upper Deck, which launched a line of limited edition Tiger Woods autographed products after the Masters, reports it is happy with its relationship. Upper Deck spokesman Terry Melia said that the company sold out of the Tiger Woods Curved Display Case With Range-Driven Golf Ball, which came with an autograph, was limited to 50 and sold for $499.99. Melia said that other Tiger items have been selling at “a steady rate.”
“As is the case with most athletes’ collectibles, for sales to really take off, Tiger needs to perform well out on the golf course,” Melia said. “Needless to say, we wish a speedy recovery from his neck injury.”
Woods still has his deal with Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand though the company has pulled back on using Woods and there’s no word when they’ll come back.
The global consulting firm, which used Tiger in 83 percent of its advertising, was the first to drop him, on Dec. 14. Interestingly enough, their association with Woods didn’t seem to hurt business much as the following quarter’s business only decreased two percent versus the same period the year before. The company has replaced Woods in airports and on television with surfing elephants.
AT&T dropped Woods on Dec. 31 as a spokesman and from his golf bag, but kept its relationship with the AT&T National, the tournament that he hosts each summer. AT&T was less exposed than Accenture because it actually never had any ads with Woods.
Gatorade discontinued its Tiger line before everything took place, but they severed the deal with Woods altogether on Feb. 26. The company still has a relationship with the Tiger Woods Foundation.