Tiger Woods and his Sponsors Should Focus on Golf

Tiger Woods is back on the golf course. His return to golf started well when he scored a birdie on the third hole of The Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia on Thursday, April 8, 2010. But Nike is airing an ad that takes the focus off his golf skills. 

The new Nike TV commercial is a failure.  The black and white commercial has a voiceover with his late-father’s voice admonishing Tiger and features a pensive Tiger Woods wearing a Nike hat and vest.  He looks guilty.  The voice of Earl Woods says, “Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive; to promote discussion.  I want to find out what your thinking was.  I want to find out what your feelings are and did you learn anything.” 

Why would Tiger Woods approve this?  Why would Nike think this would rebuild his credibility and Nike’s as well?  The commercial is certainly is getting a lot of media exposure, however.  Perhaps that was Nike’s goal. 

Nike did stick with him while most sponsors dropped him.  Woods lost some $50 million in our endorsements deals as the scandal of his infidelities has unfolded since November. 

Public figures enjoy tremendous fortune and have high visibility.   It’s in their best interest to safeguard their favorable status with the American public.  Then they are rewarded with celebrity endorsements from companies eager to form a partnership with them.  When that happens, companies hope consumers will associate the goodwill they feel for the celebrity with their product.   

If a celebrity wants the endorsement contracts, he or she must meet expectations.  That means celebrities must not only excel in their professions, but behave without reproach in their private lives as well because everyone is watching and millions of dollars are at stake. 

While Tiger Woods is arguably the greatest golfer of this century, he’s lost many of his fans in light of the scandal. He should have stopped at one sincere public apology and then continued about what he does best—play golf.  That is all he should be speaking about.  In a press conference on Monday, Woods said, “That first tee, I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t looked forward to that tee shot in a long time, not like this. It feels fun again. You know, that’s something that’s been missing.” Statements like those are what will help to rebuild his image.  Focus on what you do well, not on what you’ve done wrong.

Nike’s newest commercial doesn’t help create the comeback story Americans love.  Critical thinkers should ask, why does Nike continue to use Tiger Woods?

Public Figures and Their Affairs: It’s All About Credibility

Public figures enjoy tremendous fortune and have high visibility.   It’s in their best interest to safeguard their favorable status with the American public.  Then they are rewarded with celebrity endorsements from companies eager to form a partnership with them.  When that happens, companies hope consumers will associate the goodwill they feel for the celebrity with their product.   

Michael Jordan is a much sought after public figure and enjoys lucrative celebrity endorsement deals with Hanes, Ball Park Franks and many others.  These companies pay Jordan very well for his positive image.

Endorsements like these can also be taken away, however.  If a company no longer deems that celebrity worthy of representing its product, the celebrity loses the endorsement.  This is usually clearly spelled out in morality clauses.  There is a choice.  No one is forcing anyone to accept the contract.

Tiger Woods has been the focus of countless news stories this week as a result of an accident and belated apology for personal indiscretions.   Many women have since come forward claiming they participated in his infidelity.  Woods has asked for privacy and that has engaged a lively debate over whether public figures can have private lives.  Does it go both ways?  Can a public figure ask for privacy when it’s convenient? 

If a celebrity wants the endorsement contracts, he or she must meet expectations.  That means celebrities must not only excel in their professions, but behave without reproach in their private lives as well because everyone is watching and millions of dollars are at stake. 

America loves a comeback story.  With hard work, credibility can be rebuilt.  Just look at Kobe Bryant and Tylenol.  Both the basketball star and the product line faced credibility crises and have not only rebuilt their reputations, but have exponentially surpassed their initial level of success.