Nike, EA Sports support Tiger, but for how long?
While Tiger Woods has the option of fading into the background after today's press conference, his sponsors are out of time. With video reports.
Tiger Woods started his long road back to the golf course today with a much-anticipated statement in Florida. However, a 15-minute affair with no time for questions is far from a sign Tiger is embracing the public eye again.
The jury is still out on whether the golf great has made the right move with his stonewalling since the infamous car crash over Thanksgiving. But one thing that's certain is that Woods' sponsors Electronic Arts (ERTS), Procter & Gamble (PG) and Nike (NKE) don't have the luxury of waiting this thing out any longer. They need to decide very quickly whether they're sticking with the Tiger brand.
Here's what some of the leading Tiger Woods sponsors appear to be planning.
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Electronic Arts (ERTS):The video game maker has been one of Tiger's strongest supporters, and was quick to say it is "supportive of his focus toward family and rebuilding his life" after the news conference today. There's no surprise why -- ERTS pays a pretty penny for Tiger as the name and face of its flagship golf game. Just as EA Sports made NFL great John Madden a household name among youngsters who never watched him coach a Raiders game, EA has also made Tiger an icon for prefer a joystick to a three wood. With a new Tiger Woods PGA Golf game out every year like clockwork, there's simply no way to rebrand the video game series -- even if Electronic Arts wanted to. The latest Tiger title has already been tested and is set to ship in June.
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Procter & Gamble (PG): Tiger's sponsorship of PG products -- notably Gillette razors and shaving cream -- may have already come to a close. In December, Procter & Gamble announced that it was pulling all print and TV ads with Woods saying, "As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs." The door is still open for Tiger's return, and his Web site still lists Gillette as one of his sponsors, but with a brand so closely tied to the home and the family it's hard to imagine PG rolling out Woods ads again anytime soon.
Nike (NKE): Nike also has been supportive of Tiger in the past, and said the same thing today after the event. But while it's true that Tiger Woods is the ultimate individual athlete and that Nike is the ultimate sports brand, the sad reality is that Woods isn't as rare as he'd like to think he is. Consider the Nike "Most Valuable Puppets" ads that feature the NBA's two biggest stars -- LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Or Nike's current 25th anniversary campaign of its iconic Air Jordan sneakers. Or a deal with cancer survivor and biking superman Lance Armstrong. Not to mention the fact that the swoosh is currently getting plenty of airtime right now thanks to its status as leading Olympic sponsor. While Tiger Woods is a leader in golf, Nike has plenty of other sports to fill its time. Nike may go back to Tiger down the road when the dust settles, but there's no reason to rush.
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