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Sympatico Column: Tiger's Mass Market Appeal is Done

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My latest Sympatico column focuses on whether Tiger Woods can recover as a corporate pitchman:

For now, the recovery of the Tiger Woods brand seems just about as likely as John Daly winning another major.

That means there’s a chance “ but it is pretty damned slight.
Over the weekend, business consultancy Accenture decided the Woods brand was more a Cheetah than a Tiger and parted ways with the golf star. That followed the news Gatorade had yanked its Tiger-branded drink, and Tag Heuer was pondering its relationship to the golfer following his admission of marital infidelities and his decision to take an indefinite leave from the sport that has made him famous. Nike continues to hang in there, with company founder Phil Knight essentially saying that athletes will be dogs. In Knight’s world view “ and it could be accurate “ the fact athletes chase skirts is just part of the sports world.
“It is part of the game,” he told Sports Business Journal, adding the scandal will be viewed as a “minor blip,” on Tiger’s trip to greatness.
But will it? Or is Tiger’s image so broken, so tattered, that it can’t be put back together? Will companies want to be associated with him after the furor of tabloid headlines subsides?

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

22 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert…kind of weak journalism to paint the Tiger Focus drink being pulled as ‘Gatorade yanking Tiger’ because of the scandal.

    1. Pepsi/Gatorade have said they’re continuing their business relationship with Tiger Woods…but killing the bad selling Tiger Focus drink (they have a 5 year deal that runs to 2012)

    2. the Tiger Focus drink announcement was made November 25th…2 days before the car crash/tabloid frenzy. Sensationalist media picked the story up on December 9th. Hack blogs continually repeat the story even though it is now mid-December.

    This whole Tiger Woods story has been fed all along the way by bad reporting…

    i.e. the golf club fiasco – police explained she used the club to smash the window in the backseat to get Tiger out because he was unconscious and the doors were locked (they automatically lock once you go over 10mph), Hack media thought the FHP said she blasted out the back windscreen to drag him out through the window…ruled that a lie , and the golf club swinging banshee story took off. Pathetic.

    Congratulations to G4G for continuing this trend

  • Stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

    Work the stages sakimano. I think you’re somewhere between denial and anger.

  • America loves a comeback story. Tiger Woods could fall into that opportunity if he plays his cards right.

    However, with the rumour that he is headed for divorce, he is more likely to take his financial lumps via a large settlement with his wife, and then carry on scoring on and off the golf course. With that scenario, say good-bye to the plethora of mainstream endorsement deals but he will likely still surpass Jack’s majors record. IMHO, this will be a shallow achievement of incredible athletic skill.

  • Its too bad that even the best of reporters buy into the tabloid rags. In this the Tiger Wood’s story, the only reason any of you are printing the crap and personal opinions about it, is to see who can get a name as big as his (never happen by the way… won’t even add up to 15 mins of fame) as the moron who brought Tiger down. If you want the true story, shut up leave them alone and let them work it out. He/they will make it puplic when THEY choose not media morons trying to destroy not one but two public people.
    Try to use your heads at least the memory part and ask yourself what Elin said about Tigers character when she accepted his proposal of marriage. She knew he was some what of a player with the ladies people. So now this happens… go figure… if she didn’t expect it she is not very bright… model, oh yeah right I forgot, kinda speaks for itself doesn’t it. Not only that, she signed a prenup so who is bribing who?? Is she saying give me more money (millions) and I will stay with you or keep quiet, is she a golddigger? As you can read, put in print in the right places scandal and rumour can be started very easily. As for corporate sponsorship, if the big boys want to blow off the most outstanding sport phenom to ever cross their paths…. well you don’t have to be a rocket science to figure out what morons they really are now do you. For all those corportate heads…. name one sports figure to do as much for a sport as Tiger Woods has for golf and for that matter the sports world in general. Watch the financial colapse of many sporting events, network events tournaments and maybe even more if you idiots force him away from the very thing that brought you the amount of revenues you are so accustom to. Why don’t you all get your own life and let them live theirs. Their personal life is no-ones business but their own. Shut up already!

  • Stating that Phil Knight (Nike co-founder) essentially claims that “athletes will be dogs” and that they “chase skirts” is irresponsible journalism.

    According to Robert Thomson this comment is based on an interivew by Sports Business Journal in which Mr. Knight is quoted as saying that Tiger’s transgressions are just a mnor blip and part of the game.
    (http://www.sportingnews.com/golf/article/2009-12-14/nikes-phil-knight-tells-sbj-tigers-indiscretions-just-minor-blip-0)

    I don’t get the connection between a minor blip and athletes will be dogs that chase skirts. That’s quite a stretch. It not only demeans Phil Knight but all athletes. “Chase skirts…..” come on, lets get real.

  • Here’s the Knight quote:

    SBJ: You look at someone like Tiger Woods and this episode of infidelity. Does this change the concept of building brands around athletes?
    Knight: Not for us. It’s part of the game.

    So for Knight, infidelity is part of the game. Enough said.

  • Sorry to be pig-headed on this one. I get the quote and the reference to infidelity as part of the game. BUT where, WHERE does Mr. Knight actually say that “athletes are dogs” and “chase skirts” You’ve put words into Mr. Knight’s mouth that haven’t been said. I can only assume that this is your opinion and not Mr. Knight’s. In fact, in your words, “and it could be accurate” support that that’s what YOU believe. Once again, this is sensational and irresponsible tabloid journalism. Enough said!

  • Edward and Ian: It is called a “column.” It is my opinion that Phil Knight is saying athletes will chase women and that’s part of the game. I do believe that is what the quote suggests — what do you think it means?

  • Hey Edward,

    I admire your passion, but RT isn’t really a journalist. He is an expert in every field, often writing about business, golf, players, etc. He rarely does research. Hey, a while back, he even forgot that golf in the olympics also means women!. He often just makes things up as he goes, and the latest debate you are having with him proves my point. He just wings it and fills the page. Facts? Who needs fact when one is writing a column. Research? He doesn’t need to do research because the guy know it all. Journalism? He skips that course in school. That is why nobody really follows him except if you want to laugh out loud.

  • Franklin,

    Thanks for your reply. I’m glad that someone else can see through the nonsense he writes. I guess we have to collectively ask “where’s the accountability”? Probably through his pocketbook. I’ve had discussions with officials at Nike’s world wide headquarters and they aren’t laughing out loud. At some point someone has to take a stand and say enough’s enough. Enough said (again)!

  • Is that why you two clown post replies here, to seek an opportunity to bash someone’s views and opinions you don’t agree with?

    Quite Franklin….I mean frankly, if you don’t like it…hit the road Leave the Going for the Green blog for those of us who do enjoy RT’s articles, commentary and willingess to share his opinions.

  • Hello MRCninvstr,

    I respect everyone’s right to express their opnion. But let’s respect the rights of those that we are expressing our opinion about. If someone put words in your mouth that you didn’t say – and could potentially damage your reputation and your company’s reputation – and sloughed it off as ” its my opinion” or that it’s a “column”, I think you would have a different perspective.

    It’s called journalisitic responsibility or ethics.

    Does Mr. Thompson really work for the National Post? I do believe that their editorial board has ethics.

  • Edward: What exactly do you think Mr. Knight meant by his remarks? When asked about infidelity he said, “It is part of the game.” That means he, as the founder of Nike, understands that athletes who are married will be involved with other women. “It is part of the game,” he says by way of explanation. He also calls the situation involving Tiger “a blip,” which seems to me to be downplaying the significance of a man who cheated on his wife, despite having two very young children. Through his own flippant remarks, Mr. Knight is condoning this action.

    Is that what you’re holding up, Edward? Do you believe it is okay for a man — an individual who was well paid as an example of greatness — to screw around on his wife with whom he has two children under the age of three? Mr. Knight says that is “a blip,” and “part of the game.”

    Since you apparently have a direct line to Phil perhaps you can explain his remarks more clearly than I can. Fire away.

  • I’ve been away…good to see I’m not the only one who is calling RT out on his dull pencil.

    Robert, Knight’s quote ‘part of the game’ to me means part of the marketing game to have to deal with these situations. He’s not saying ‘let’s ignore infidelity…it’s to be expected from pro athletes’. He’s saying that part of the business of hiring a spokesperson is having to deal with that spokesperson making bad decisions and casting a negative light on your product.

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