December 4, 2009: One week after Tiger Woods pre-dawn accident outside his estate in Florida set off shock waves heard around the world, the bulk of his marketing partners have rallied to his defense and the analysts who keep track of such alliances say his status has take a slight, but only temporary hit.
Woods earns more than $90 million a year from endorsement deals, nearly twice that of fellow golfer Phil Mickelson, who is second behind Woods among all pro athletes at about $47 million. This week, the bulk of Woods' marketing partners came out in support of him, albeit with a bit of caution until many of the facts surrounding the crash were known, including Nike, Gatorade, EA Sports, Gillette, NetJets and TLC VIsion. Although the situation regarding his infidelity is serious, Woods appears not to have been involved in far more dangerous situations such as domestic violence or DUI.
"The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious," Woods wrote on his Web site. "[My wife] Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect."
According to the Davie Brown Index, Wood’s awareness increased slightly due to coverage of his crash. DBI, an independent index used by brands and their agencies to determine a celebrity’s ability to influence brand affinity and consumer purchase intent, said 99.61% of U.S. consumers now know of Tiger Woods, up from 99.15% of 60 days ago. "That’s to be expected with the intense media coverage he’s received over the last several days," said a representative of DBI, which is a division of Los Angeles entertainment marketing agency Davie Brown Entertainment.
In terms of influence, his score dipped, but not dramatically, from 76.29 to 74.58. Meanwhile, DBI said that Wood’s endorsement score fell about six points, from 77.67 to 71.70. These numbers still rank him among the most prolific and influential athletes in sports and entertainment marketing.
Woods likely will not sign any new deals until his current personal-gone-public situation cools down. His next public appearance, which may not be until late January, certainly will attract media attention. Until then, Woods is staying behind the gates of his estate, communicating with the public via his official Web site.
If there was any doubt that being associated with Woods still moves product for marketers, most major media outlets have had him on their covers this week, and a book found in his crashed 2009 Cadillac Escalade, Get a Grip on Physics by John Gribbin, jumped from 396,224 to 2,268 on Amazon.com's book sales list, according to the online retailer. Ironically, Woods and Cadillac GM sibling Buick parted as marketing partners at the end of 2008.
And as for the women who now are linked with Woods? "Their awareness by the public has shot through the roof!" said the DBI rep.