Tiger Woods’ press conference two weeks ago served two purposes: First and most obvious was to clean up his image.
The second purpose, which I feel has not been picked up, has been to save what endorsements he has left.
The Tiger brand has been hit hard since this news came out. His sponsors have left him quicker than a golf ball he hits off the tee.
Accenture, Gillette, Electronic Arts, and Tag Heuer all stopped endorsing him within days of the announcement. They were paying him a total of $48 million. Gatorade just ended their relationship with the Tiger Brand last week. That deal was worth $1 million per year. It is estimated on nowpublic.com that 90 percent of Woods’ income comes from his endorsement deals. The only endorsement he has left is his biggest and most popular one, Nike.
The shoe company has been vocal about sticking by Woods in his moment of crisis. They’ve stated, “When he wins again, people will forget about everything.”
He should thank them, but he also needs to thank Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, arguably the best and most marketable player in the NBA right now, was in the same position in 2003 after being charged with sexual assault just months after signing with Nike. He was at the cusp of superstardom the way Lebron James is right now when all of this happened. Because of this incident, Nike kept him, but they didn’t put out anything associated with his likeness and Nike.
Fast forward seven years to 2010. Bryant still dominates on the basketball court and has won an NBA championship, MVP award, and most fans have forgetten the sexual assault incident.
Now imagine the money that could have been made by Nike had they continued to endorse Bryant since 2003. Then add Lebron James in the mix, and you have two of the top five athletes in the world in money-generating power.
Fool me once, my fault; fool me twice, your fault. Nike knows what it is doing here.
From their previous experience, they don’t want to lose out on any money that can be gained. Had Bryant not done better in his situation, Nike would have abandoned Woods along with everyone else.
Instead, he got better and is the man in his sport. Woods is the No. 1 player in his sport as well. They have stood by Woods in his darkest hour, and when the time comes for him to play again, he will return the favor.