Tiger Woods TV Ads Disappear After Reports of Affairs (Update2)
Share Business ExchangeTwitterFacebook| Email | Print | A A A
By Brett Pulley and Michael Buteau
Dec. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Advertisements featuring Tiger Woods have disappeared from prime-time broadcast television and many cable channels following reports of his extramarital affairs, according to data from Nielsen Co.
The last prime-time ad featuring the 33-year-old golfer was a 30-second Gillette Co. spot on Nov. 29, according to New York- based Nielsen. Woods also was absent from ads on a number of weekend sports programs, including NFL games, Nielsen said.
“Last weekend there wasn’t any advertisement during those games,” said Aaron Lewis, a spokesman at Nielsen.
The No. 1 ranked golfer’s standing with the public has plunged in the wake of reports of infidelity that followed a Nov. 27 car accident outside his home near Orlando, Florida. Woods’s ranking among celebrity endorsers tumbled to 24th from 6th, according to the Davie Brown Index, which is used to gauge the ability of personalities to influence shoppers.
Woods has endorsement agreements with Accenture Plc, Nike Inc., PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade, Tag Heuer International SA watches, Electronic Arts Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette. Neither Mark Steinberg, Woods’s agent, nor Glenn Greenspan, a spokesman, responded to phone messages or e-mails seeking comment.
The golfer’s $110 million in annual income from endorsements and tournaments, as estimated by Forbes magazine, hinges on his standing with consumers. Woods ranked as the world’s fourth-highest paid celebrity in the 12 months through June 30, the magazine said. In October, he became the first athlete to top $1 billion in career earnings.
Web Site Statement
Woods posted a statement on his Web site on Dec. 2 saying he let his family down with “transgressions” and hasn’t been true to his “family values.” He didn’t address reports of infidelity that appeared in media including US Weekly magazine.
“His sponsors will attempt to limit his face time,” Andy Donchin, director of media investments at Carat North America, an advertising agency in New York, wrote today in an e-mail. “The best thing he can do is get back on a golf course.”
Fifteen different advertisements featuring Woods have appeared during prime time since the beginning of June, according to Nielsen. Those included spots for Gillette, Accenture, Electronic Arts and the PGA. Most had stopped running as the PGA golf season wound down, prior to Woods’s accident. A Gillette ad that also included baseball player Derek Jeter was still running, according to Nielsen.
Withdrew From Tourney
Following the car accident, Woods withdrew from last weekend’s Chevron World Challenge on NBC, an event he has hosted since 1999 to benefit his charitable foundation. Other than an announcement of his absence by TV host Dan Hicks, there was no other mention and the network didn’t air any ads featuring Woods in two days of coverage, according to the New York Post.
Gillette is running its media schedule as planned and no Tiger Woods ads have been pulled, said Mike Norton, a company spokesman. He wouldn’t comment on the frequency of the ads.
Nike’s golf division isn’t changing its advertising plans, Beth Gast, a spokeswoman for the Beaverton, Oregon-based company, said in an e-mail.
Lisa Gordon-Miller, a spokeswoman for Dublin-based Accenture, had no immediate comment. Electronic Arts wasn’t running any Woods ads and hasn’t changed its marketing, said David Tinson, a spokesman for the Redwood City, California-based video-game publisher.
Woods’s continued relationships with corporate sponsors may hinge on factors including their duration, his importance to their brand images, the target audience and how much money is at stake, according to attorneys experienced in celebrity contract enforcement.
While contracts typically contain behavior clauses, terminations for morality are rare, said Douglas Wood, a partner in the New York office of Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith LLP and general counsel to the Association of National Advertisers.
“It has to be pretty bad, where the artist is someone who has fallen pretty far,” Wood said today in a telephone interview.
The attorney, who has had no involvement with the golfer’s endorsements, said he doubted sponsors such as Gillette and Nike would rush to end their contracts.
Woods ranked just below Oprah Winfrey and above Bill Cosby on the Davie Brown Index, which tracks 2,800 celebrities. Now he is between actress Julia Roberts and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Davie Brown Index was created by Los Angeles-based Davie Brown Entertainment to provide a way to measure the use of celebrities in campaigns.
The decline in marketability may be temporary, said Chris Anderson, a spokesman for the index.
“This type of swing is caused by major events -- winning the Super Bowl MVP Award or, as with this case, an intense personal crisis,” Anderson said in an e-mail. “Typically, over time, the scores settle back.”
Woods is the best-known active athlete, based on a September study by Marketing Evaluations, a Manhasset, New York- based research company that publishes the Q score, ranking entertainers by their appeal to consumers.
Among U.S. consumers over the age of six, 86 percent recognized the golfer, with 28 percent saying Woods was one of their favorite personalities, giving him a +28 Q Score.
The average celebrity is recognized by 32 percent of the U.S. general population and has a +17 Q rating, according to Henry Schafer, the company’s executive vice president.
The company plans to conduct another survey at the end of January, Schafer said.
“We don’t like to take measurements immediately after any negative social incident,” Schafer said. “We want the consumer to digest things as much as possible.”
While Woods’s popularity may be down, visits to golf.com, owned by Time Warner Inc.’s Sports Illustrated, have more than quadrupled, according to Scott Novak, a Sports Illustrated spokesman.