After Tiger Woods announced he's taking a hiatus from golf, all eyes are on his corporate sponsors--the sources of 90 percent of his $100 million-plus income. On Sunday, the consulting firm Accenture cut ties with Woods, axing a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign. As other sponsors distance themselves, business analysts are playing mind-reader with the golf star's corporate backers. Everyone agrees that the materialization of more mistresses could push more sponsors over the edge. But what are the other factors to balance?
- The Marriage, writes Peter Cohan at Daily Finance: "Here's how I think his sponsors will decide. If the executives are comfortable with the way Tiger is handling family matters and that he will emerge as a good representative of their brand, they'll support him. If they are still trying to decide, they'll say nothing or announce that they're trying to decide. And if they think his image and value to their brand hurts more than it will help, they will split from him. If Woods returns to the golf course in 2010 or 2011 with his golf game and marriage in good shape, those tournament producers and sponsors will be back. In the meantime, while Tiger's sponsors will survive without him, it could be a long time before golf recovers."
- Dismayed Consumers, write Emily Steel and Suzanne Vranica in The Wall Street Journal: "Behind the scenes, these advertisers are likely to be tracking how sales and consumer perceptions are being affected by the scandal, sports-marketing executives say. Consumers are disappointed by Mr. Woods's alleged behavior, and the golfer is generating a good deal of negative buzz, according to a study released Tuesday by Millward Brown, a brand-research agency owned by ad company WPP. It will take some time to undo the damage, the agency said."
- The Diction Nightmare, writes James Moore at The Huffington Post: "Any sponsor considering hiring him has to wade through the language of every potential ad campaign and parse the words for double entendres. Even the fans assembled around the greens will cause a wince of embarrassment with their consistent shouts of, 'Get in the hole!' The laughter will roll when an analyst says, 'Tiger's just played a great round of 72 holes.' The whispering voice answers, 'Oh, I think he passed that number a long time ago, David.' The clichéd lexicon of sport is rife with phraseology that is easily misinterpreted and, consequently, embarrassing."
- The Kobe Bryant Factor, suggests Jessica Shambora at Fortune: "Some observers look to past examples, like NBA star Kobe Bryant, for evidence that Woods could survive this by reaffirming his dominance on the golf course. After being accused of rape in 2003, Kobe Bryant lost some of his endorsements, including McDonald's and Nutella. But Nike held on, and though it stopped promoting him, the company started using him again in 2005 after he started playing well again. Last year, Bryant signed a high-profile deal with VitaminWater and took in $35.5 million in total, according to Sports Illustrated."