Teed off? The shifting state of the Tiger Woods brand

Tiger Woods has been in high demand among top-dollar corporate clients seeking a celebrity to help peddle their products. But amid the mounting scandal and media frenzy surrounding his personal travails, various national authorities are assessing and debating the current standing and value of his personal brand, and those opinions are all over the map.

Here's a selection of what pundits and analysts are seeing and predicting, even as the star athlete's situation continues to evolve.

"Brands associated with Tiger are now working with a double-edged sword. The saturation of Tiger in the media has heightened the recognition of his sponsor affiliations. But at the same time, for these brands, the controversy is contributing to a more negative impact on public perception. It's the age-old debate: Is all publicity good publicity?"
— Randall Beard, executive vice president and general manager, Nielsen IAG, quoted in Brandweek, Dec. 10

"It is 'grossly premature' to assess the extent of any long-term damage to Mr. Woods' reputation and the impact on a given brand, says Kevin Adler, founder and president of Engage Marketing, a Chicago sports and entertainment marketing firm. 'Superior performance on the field of play has the very real potential to re-establish Tiger's brand.'"
The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 10

"What about all those endorsements Woods has been cashing in on? Will the public still purchase products promoted by the now-tarnished sports figure? Americans respond overwhelmingly, 'Yes.' Ninety-one percent say Woods' 'transgressions' make no difference when deciding whether or not to buy a product endorsed by the golfer. Eight percent say recent events will make them less likely to buy such products."
— Marist Institute for Public Opinion, reporting on the results of a recent poll, Dec. 9

"Despite the claims of solidarity [by Woods' main sponsors], though, some observers have begun an endorsement-deal deathwatch. As the number of women with whom Woods is linked grows each day — and he refuses to address the escalating situation — it becomes increasingly difficult for sponsors to position him as a credible frontman. Indeed, according to media tracker Nielsen, the last time a commercial featuring Tiger Woods appeared on television was Nov. 29."
— Jessica Shambora, reporting for CNNMoney, Dec. 9

"I think at some point, if this were to continue, then you will see advertisers back away. They don't want to do it right now, because they have so much money invested in this brand. This is the best-known athlete in the world. And he has been a family man and had this incredible image. But this won't last long if it keeps going."
— noted sports agent Leigh Steinberg, quoted by CBS News, Dec. 9

"The average level of negative buzz for celebrities is 4 percent, which makes Tiger's current level of negative buzz at a massive 80 percent one of the very highest we have seen and comparable to Kanye West's scores at the height of his VMA/Taylor Swift scandal. In addition, as we've seen with celebrities like Kanye, a sudden drop in affinity will not recover overnight. It takes some time to regain consumers' love and admiration."
— Graham Kerr, executive vice president of Millward Brown, an Illinois-based brand-research firm, on the results of a company survey and celebrity-buzz calculus conducted Dec. 8


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About Jon Elliston
Former Mountain Xpress managing editor Jon Elliston is the senior editor at WNC magazine.

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3 thoughts on “Teed off? The shifting state of the Tiger Woods brand

  1. Charles M

    I don’t think it really matters if he had affairs with 14 or 400 women, I think any condom manufacturer worth their salt would be very happy if Tiger Woods endorsed their products.

  2. ashehome

    If I were marketing director for a corporation, I would stay away from endorsements from sports figures. Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Charles Barkley…pick your poison.

    They are paid too much and go ego crazy.
    How about a school teacher endorsing something? Or a firefighter? or a social worker?

  3. Betty Cloer Wallace

    I’m pulling for Elin, who is in a position to gain lucrative product endorsements on her own, which would be the ultimate “club to the head” of the wayward Tiger.

    She is quite athletic, and Nike’s rival Puma reportedly wants to sign her. She’d also be a good representative for many other products and causes.

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