Monday
Jan142013

Is Tiger Woods Ready To Hand Off Nike Golf's Marketing Crown To Rory McIlroy?

By Barry Janoff

January 14, 2013: Tiger Woods may have been the king of Nike Golf for the past 15 years but Rory McIlroy has stepped into the throne room to the chants of, "The King is Dead! Long life the King!"

Nike confirmed today that it has signed a long-term deal with McIlroy, ranked No. 1 in the world, to represent Nike Golf on the course and in marketing.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Industry analysts said the pact could be worth upward of $200 million over ten years.

The deal was unveiled during a press conference at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, being played Jan. 17-21.

McIlroy, who will sport Nike Golf clubs, balls, footwear, gloves, apparel, headwear and accessories, makes his marketing debut for the brand this week in a TV spot alongside Woods.

“I chose Nike for a number of reasons,” McIlroy said during the press conference. “It’s a company and a brand that really resonates with me. It’s young. It’s athletic. It’s innovative. They are committed to being the best, as am I. Signing with Nike is another step towards living out my dream.”

Other Nike Golf endorsers include Kyle Stanley, Nick Watney, Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung Yul Noh.

Woods has been aligned with Nike Golf since 1996. The company remained with him after Woods' personal life of extra-marital affairs became public knowledge. That cost him more than $30 million in annual endorsements when his deals were terminated by such firms as PepsiCo's Gatorade, AT&T, Procter & Gamble's Gillette and Accenture.

Foreshadowing the Nike Golf union, Woods and McIlroy shared the cover of the European version of EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour videogame the hit in 2012.

Wood's has won 14 Major championships during his career, but none since the U.S. Open in 2008. Last year, McIlroy became the youngest player in PGA history to hit $10 million in career earnings.

The initial spot, "No Cup is Safe," shows the rivalry and mutual admiration that exists between the 23-year-old McIlroy and the 37-year-old Woods. It will air nationally during golf programming and then go into regular rotation. Support includes print, Internet and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

"No Cup is Safe" opens with both men practicing drives on a range. McIlroy soars a shot that lands inches from a hole. Tiger's shot hits Rory's ball and is even closer to the hole.

"Any questions?" Tiger says to McIlroy. "So, it's going to be like that!" Rory replies, whose next shot is a hole-in-one. "Oh, someone wants to play," Woods says. "Just trying to keep up with the old guy," McIlroy replies. "Hey," Woods says looking at McIlroy's iconic mop atop his head, "is that your real hair?!!"

They then both drives shots to farther and farther, one landing in the soda cup on the side of a golf cart, another in a beverage cup on a man's kitchen table.

"I just can't miss today," McIlroy says. "Ever get days like that?"

Tiger responds by hitting a golf ball on the fly into a restaurant, off the wall and into a bowl of soup. Rory winds up and without looking hits a ball through a distant office window and into the hole on a guy's putting green.

They then both take a succession of swings that end up in a row of champagne glasses at a wedding reception.

Ultimately, McIlroy picks up a glass to take a drink of water and finds one of Tiger's golf balls inside. "How'd you do that?" McIlroy inquires. Tiger smiles and replies, "You'll learn." (See the full spot here.)

“Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere,” Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, said in a statement. “He is the epitome of a Nike Athlete, and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf’s history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level.”

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