With the Tiger Woods turmoil dominating the news lately, we can’t help but wonder who has got Tiger’s back? Not only is the billionaire athlete’s squeaky-clean image on the line, but some of his sponsorships may also be dangling by a thread.
Both on and off the golf course, 33-year-old professional golfer Tiger Woods is an extremely high-demand individual when it comes to sponsorships and it’s no wonder when you consider the amount of press he attracts regardless of where he goes…or what he does. With the events taking place over the past few weeks involving the car crash, alleged infidelities, and recent news of a golf hiatus, some of Woods’ multi-million dollar corporate backers are stepping into the light to voice their opinion and stance on the situation.
Of the many sponsors that Woods has, only one so far has come out and said directly that they will be limiting his role in their marketing programs, and that is Gillette, a division of Procter & Gamble. Gillette has issued a statement that said, “As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs.” CNN is reporting that Gillette spokesman, Mike Norton, added, “In the midst of a difficult and unfortunate situation, we respect the action Tiger is taking to restore the trust of his family, friends, and fans.”
Gatorade, on the other hand, isn’t exactly directly dropping the golf ball in terms of its relationship with Woods, but mainly because they are claiming, in a statement released earlier this week, “As reported last month, we decided several months ago to discontinue Gatorade Tiger Focus, along with some other product to make room for our planned series of innovative products in 2010.” Coincidentally great timing or were they somehow predicting the future? One may never know, but it seems like that’s another company we may be able to tick off the list of “no longer backing Tiger” in the near future.
Moving on to another sponsor, Nike spokeswoman, Beth Gast, commented on the popular sports company’s position on Woods by saying in a statement, “We look forward to his return to golf. He and his family have Nike’s full support.” However, there was no specific comment on whether or not the recent events would impact his business relationship with Nike, which has worked with him for more than a decade.
Playing it somewhat coy, Accenture has not returned any calls made regarding where their relationship with Woods stands, however they have taken the golfer off their website. It’s anyone guess why they did that, so without more information, we’ll just leave it at that.
Update: According to CNN, Accenture has officially ended their relationship with Woods, stating, “given the circumstances of the last two weeks … the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising.” The move by Accenture ends their six year relationship with Woods.
EA Sports is the company that makes Woods’ video game, and word from over there is that it is standing behind the golfer. David Tinson, a company spokesman, said, “We respect that this is a very difficult and private situation for Tiger and his family. At this time, the strategy for our Tiger Woods PGA TOUR business remains unchanged.” Now there’s the kind of clean cut responses the public likes! Question, answered.
Unfortunately, not everyone can be so straight-forward. Take AT&T for instance, who quite simply don’t know what their future relationship with Woods will be. The company said, “We support Tiger’s decision and our thoughts will be with him and his family. We are presently evaluating our ongoing relationship with him.”
And finally, luxurious Swiss watchmaker owned by French LVMH, Tag Heuer, appears to be heading towards ending their relationship with Woods, although they aren’t officially there yet. The brand has removed all ads of Woods from Australian stores, and has begun to cool down their Woods-related press, although the company notes all of that is pure coincidence. Only time will tell.
UPDATE: While Tag Heur may be putting Woods’ advertisements on pause for the moment, it is reported that the public can in fact expect to see more Tag Heur ads involving Tiger Wood and exclusive watches in the future.