Since the infamous scandal that stained his reputation as a husband, Tiger Woods hasn’t managed to prove its legendary talent on the golf field much. Back in 2009, following Tiger’s sexual affairs scorecard, among the top sponsors to drop contracts with the famous golfer, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette led the pack. This week, still somehow in connection with the scandal of 2009, another major sponsor renounced Tiger, this time, TAG-Heuer.
The company has limited its use of Tiger’s image in certain markets in the past, but only ended its endorsement agreement with Tiger Woods when the golfer’s contract expired last month, Bloomberg reported. Nothing out of the ordinary here: such agreements don’t last forever. Except that Tiger already has a history of losing other major agreements, and also, a history of bad PR moves.
For instance, in April 2010, in an effort to push Tiger Woods apparel back on the market, Nike produced a new commercial, featuring Tiger Woods and the voice of his late father, using recordings that appeared as though he was addressing his son about his sex scandal. This was one of the most hideous PR flops for Nike, but it affected Tiger’s image even worse.
And he continues with one PR gaffe after another, especially in the way he handles the media.
If only Tiger performed better on the golf field, regaining his status as the world’s greatest golfer, things could get better. But he doesn’t show any signs of improvement. His game is labeled by sports critics as mediocre at best, and many writers suggest that he should retire. No one believes that the legendary golfer will ever win a tournament again. And sponsors are choosing winners, not losers.
Who will drop Tiger next, after TAG-Heuer? The truth is that it could be any of his strongest, and most faithful, sponsors. Because, although Tiger’s contribution to golf is indisputable, the person behind the legend is far from being a media darling. And when it comes to a star’s public image, the media runs the show. Mark Steinberg should know that.