Tiger Wood’s Masters Win Proves He Still Has Enduring Power Over The Business Of Golf (#GotBitcoin?)
Victory clears way to recharging golfer’s marketing power with apparel giant, which stuck with him after 2009 sex scandal. Tiger Wood’s Masters Win Proves He Still Has Enduring Power Over The Business Of Golf (#GotBitcoin?)
Nike Inc. stood by Tiger Woods during a lost decade for the golfer, when a sex scandal and physical ailments derailed his career and prompted sponsors from Gillette to Gatorade to drop him.
On Sunday the apparel giant’s loyalty was rewarded when Mr. Woods won the Masters, capping a surprising turnaround that marketing experts say could restart Mr. Woods’s endorsement machine and provide a boost to Nike’s golf business.
Preliminary television ratings reflect the 43-year-old’s enduring power over the business of golf.
Despite an early start time that forced West Coast viewers to rise just after 6 a.m. to watch Mr. Woods tee off, the live coverage and rebroadcast of the final round of the Masters on CBS drew a combined 11.1 rating and 29 share in the biggest markets, according to Nielsen. The rating is the percentage of all possible TV households in the country during that time, and the share is the percentage of households actually consuming television at that time.
Since the earlier start time allowed CBS to rebroadcast the event, comparisons with previous years are difficult. The live telecast of Sunday’s Masters drew a 7.7 rating and 21 share compared with last year’s 8.7 rating and 18 share. The number of households using television during Sunday’s telecast was also down 21% compared with last year because of the earlier start time.
Mr. Woods was one of the most powerful brand endorsers on Madison Avenue before marital infidelities surfaced almost a decade ago. Amid the torrent of damaging revelations, blue-chip brands pulled their support and the tens of millions of dollars they were paying him. AT&T Inc., Accenture PLC, PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette dropped Mr. Woods and others, like Tag Heuer, later declined to renew their deals.
In 2010, the golfer’s endorsement worthiness score was 51.27, which is comparable to the current rank of actor Charlie Sheen and disgraced former cyclist and onetime Nike endorser Lance Armstrong, according to an index put out by the Marketing Arm, which polls consumers to evaluate celebrity appeal, image and influence on consumer buying behaviors.
Over the past few years, Mr. Woods’s endorsement score has improved somewhat, reaching 56.6 in January, but remains well below its peak.
The sneaker giant was one of the very few companies that stood by the fallen athlete. In his memoir, Nike founder and former CEO Phil Knight said Mr. Woods was like family and one of the first people who called him after news broke of Mr. Knight’s son’s fatal scuba diving accident. “I will not stand for a bad word spoken about Tiger in my presence,” he wrote.
While Nike removed the names of cyclist Lance Armstrong and college coach Joe Paterno from buildings at its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters following scandals, it kept Mr. Woods’s name on one of the most prominent buildings on campus.
Over the past few years, Mr. Woods has signed a few new marketing deals, including with Monster Energy drinks and Rolex watches. But his endorsement power had been hampered by his poor play and a series of injuries that called into question whether or not he would compete again, let alone win.
Sunday’s win raises the possibility that Mr. Woods could regain his place atop a sport that sports-marketing experts say is eager to embrace him.
“Sports fans have proven to be very forgiving of athletes that have disgraced themselves,” said Bob Williams, chief executive officer of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing.
Some experts say that while they expect new endorsements, they don’t believe Mr. Woods will be able to recapture the number of lucrative deals that he was able to lure in his prime. It will still be “tough for him to land ultra conservative companies,” Mr. Williams added.
Before the scandal, Mr. Woods earned roughly $90 million a year from his marketing pacts and was seen as the most powerful endorsement property in sports. Now, Mr. Woods earns an estimated $42 million in endorsements, which include Nike, golf equipment maker TaylorMade, golf ball maker Bridgestone and motorcycle manufacturer Hero MotorCorp., according to Forbes.
Nike gained a following in golf largely because of Mr. Woods’s late-1990s star power. But as participation in the sport and sales slipped, Nike said in 2016 it would stop making golf clubs and balls to focus on apparel and footwear. It continued to feature Mr. Woods in its marketing and sell a line with his “TW” logo.
In addition to Mr. Woods, who wore his famous red Nike mock turtleneck at Augusta on Sunday, the company also sponsors several young golf stars, including Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Michelle Wie.
Golf was one of the smaller sport categories at Nike, accounting for about $700 million in sales for the fiscal year ended in May 2016 before Nike ended equipment sales. Overall, Nike had more than $32 billion in revenue that year.
On Sunday, Nike wasted little time in trying to capitalize on Mr. Woods’s victory, posting an online video that highlighted Mr. Woods’s win and his journey in the sport. As of midday Monday, it had been viewed more than 20 million times.
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