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Fallout from the Tiger Woods controversy

Fallout from the Tiger Woods controversy — Sponsors haven’t abandoned the golfer… yet

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Two weeks after Tiger Woods’ car accident triggered reports of affairs and his apology for ”transgressions,” it’s clear that the golfer won’t be free of this PR hazard anytime soon. But in the midst of the story’s endless twists, one question stays constant: Will he lose his lucrative endorsement deals? As of press time, no company had dropped Woods because of the scandal. Gatorade says it decided to discontinue his signature drink prior to the now-infamous SUV crash, while other brands are currently taking a breather: According to Nielsen, no commercials featuring Woods have run on major networks since Nov. 29. But marketers are likely to hesitate before ditching the star athlete, given that his ad campaigns focus on ”what he does on the course, and you can separate that from his personal life,” says sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman. He adds that Woods ”pretty much controls a whole industry, so for advertisers to walk away from that is risky.” Marketing strategy consultant Julie Roehm agrees, to a point: ”More than most, he’s going to be given the benefit of the doubt. As a brand, you want to figure a way through it — but there are limits.”
With additional reporting by Jeff Labrecque

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