Blade Runner: Gillette Ends Four-Year Marketing Alliance With Tiger Woods

Of this trio, Roger Federer (left) remains a Gillette spokesman, but Tiger Woods and Thierry Henry (right) are not.December 24, 2010: Tiger Woods has not been seen in Gillette marketing for about two years, a direct result of the golfer's 2008 Thanksgiving Day one-car accident, which began a chain of events in which sorted details of his private life went public. Now, the division of Procter & Gamble is officially ending its endorsement deal with Woods.

Gillette confirmed that is would be ceasing support of its Gillette Champions marketing campaign in the first quarter of 2011. As part of that strategy, the men's grooming brand said it would not renew its contract with Woods, which began in February 2007 and expires as of Dec. 31. Gillette also said it would not renew deals with other athletes, including international soccer stars Thierry Henry, Kaka, Rafa Marquez and Lionel Messi.

Gillette did not severe ties with Woods when reports of his beleaguered personal situation led him to take time off from the pro golf circuit in 2009, choosing instead to pull back marketing efforts while remaining supportive of such endeavors as the Tiger Woods Foundation. Accenture, AT&T and eventually Gatorade did, however, end their deals with him.

Concurrently, EA Sports and Nike have continued to feature marketing with Woods, whose current endorsement deals also currently include Upper Deck, Tag Heuer, NetJets, TLC Laser Eye Centers and Golf Digest.

EA Sports has continued to support Woods with new products and marketing.Gillette said that its domestic and global sports marketing efforts would enter a new phase in 2011, including the use of such athletes as  Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, tennis star Roger Federer and recently signed Alexander Ovechkin of the NHL's Washington Captials, according to Gillette spokesman Michael Norton. Gillette also has an auto racing marketing program, Young Guns, that includes such drivers as Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin  and Joey Logano.

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg of IMG Worldwide, also in an e-mail to USA Today, "The contract between Tiger and Gillette expires at the end of this year. Gillette is ending their 'Champions' campaign. That is the reason for not continuing."

Woods at one point was earning about $110 million annually from endorsements, about $50 million more per year than fellow golfer Phil Mickelson, who ranked No. 2 in annual endorsements among all athletes. But that figure began to erode when General Motors ended its deal with him in 2008, a year short of their 10-year contract, vauled at about $10 million, due to the automaker's strained financial situation. Woods dropped about another $20 million in 2010 due lost endorsements. If his endorsement situation in 2011 remains as it currently stands, he still could earn in excess of $60 million, which still would leave him at or near the top of the list of endorsement income among athletes worldwide.

EA Sports has continued to work with Woods on such videogame releases as Tiger  Woods PGA Tour 10 and 11 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. Nike has released TV commercials with Woods, although they offered more introspective comments from Woods as opposed to previous humorous efforts.

According to a recent report from Carnegie Mellon University on Nike's alliance with Woods, which began in 2000, "Although several major sponsors cut ties with Tiger Woods, Nike did not. So we examined the net effect on Nike's sales and market share," Timothy Derdenger, assistant professor of economics and strategy, who helped conduct the study, said in a statement. "What we found is that by maintaining their relationship with Tiger Woods, Nike's overall profit in golf ball sales was $1.6 million greater than it would have been without him." 

"Although we have found Woods' continued endorsement to be profitable for Nike, this may not translate into similar results with non-golf related consumer goods."

However, the report, Economic Value of Celebrity Endorsement: Tiger Woods' Impact on Sales of Nike Golf Balls, also concluded, "Although we have found Woods' continued endorsement to be profitable for Nike, this may not translate into similar results with non-golf related consumer goods — where the celebrity is not inherently part of the enthusiasts community or where his financial success is not directly tied to  the use of the endorsed product." The study was completed in November 2010 and is awaiting publishing.

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