Many people are wondering whether the recent Tiger Woods scandal has damaged the endorsement game. Short term damage? Yes. Long term? Don't bet on it. However, if you're one of the dozen or so corporate sponsors currently associating your brand with Tiger's tarnished image, you may be playing with a loaded gun. Your hard earned brand may be at risk.
Team Heardable decided to take a look at 11 firms currently tied to the $100 million a year wunderkind to see whose brand was at the greatest risk to being associated with the sport star's extramarital escapades. We scanned each sponsor's URL to generate a Heardable Score, did some Google News research, then assessed how susceptible each brand might be if they continued their sponsorship deals with Tiger Woods.
Top 5 Most Vulnerable Brands Tied to Tiger Woods
1. Gillette: With a Heardable Score of 579, Gillette's brand is at higher risk than most other brands sponsoring Tiger. It would be surprising if Gillette didn't reassess its entire sponsorship of Tiger Woods. According to published press reports, they are back peddling a bit. Barkies!
2. Nike Golf: Nike finds itself in a bit of a sand trap. They built an entire golf line around Tiger Woods. Finding an advertising replacement akin the "The One" will be next to impossible. A Heardable Score of 567 is not something most brands can afford to put at risk for very long. A pitching wedge and a fine approach shot may be needed here. Nike Golf will probably hang with Tiger until he returns to golf. Look for Nike to work with Tiger to re-brand their entire golf line when the time is right.
3. Accenture: Accenture's tagline is “High Performance. Delivered." The firm has a Heardable Score of 499. As of December 2009, Accenture dropped Tiger Woods from all their advertising. This brand has spoken.
4. EA Sports: A Heardable Score of 275 means that EA Sports will be somewhat concerned about associating its brand with Tiger. But EA is so diversified in the types of sports and professional athletes it's associated with, it's in a good position no matter what it decides to do.
5. Upper Deck: Sports trading card company, Upper Deck, is somewhat exposed as well, since they are a lesser known brand whose endorsement of Tiger plays a prominent role in the firm's overall marketing campaign. Woods has been Upper Deck's exclusive golf spokesman and autograph signer for nearly 10 years. That said, Upper Deck's Heardable Score of 270 is not terribly strong, so their online brand is at less risk to sustained damage (in our humble estimation).
Six Other Brands Currently Sponsoring Tiger Woods Are A Little Less Vulnerable
6. TAG Heuer: The brand that links its watches to Tiger, asking consumers, "What are you made of?" has a Heardable Score of 249. The current ad campaign is likely to disappear. Long term association with Tiger is questionable.
7. AT&T: A Heardable Score of 236 is pretty weak. But AT&T has so many alternative endorsement options. Look for this brand to back off of Tiger in favor of more positive fairways. Update on 12/13/09 - AT&T cuts ties with Tiger Woods. The telecommunications giant issued a brief statement, saying "We wish him well in the future."
8. TLC Laser Eye Centers: Heardable Score of 203. A spokesperson for TLC said, "Our relationship with Tiger Woods continues without change." TLC Vision filed for bankruptcy protection on Dec 21, 2009. Hmmm.
9. Gatorade Tiger: Gatorade has a thirst for success. With a Heardable Score of 162, their online brand is not at great performer, nor is it at great risk. Look for them to simply drop this tainted drink for the next flavor of the moment.
10. Tatweer - The Tiger Woods Dubai: No great brand risk here. A 146 Heardable Score means this brand is not very visible online anyway.
11. NetJets: The luxury aviation company has a measly Heardable Score of 135. The risk to it's brand standing is low. In fact, this brand may actually benefit from all of the "negative" press spotlight, since not many people were mentioning the brand previously.