Brand Tiger Woods

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

This blog is a bit different, though, in the end, it is about branding. The news about Tiger Woods is all over the media. His transgressions are becoming more and more public. His image and personal brand is taking a hit. Almost all of the marketers who are using Tiger (the brand) in their marketing campaigns have gone dark. In fact, there’s been only 1 ad to air on TV and that’s for Gillette. This is such a drastic dip from a few weeks ago when you couldn’t watch or read anything for a length of time before seeing an ad with Tiger Woods as the pitchman. I know some believe that his personal business is his own private business and it should stay that way. I don’t agree with that viewpoint. Here’s why:

• Tiger Woods is a brand 
– Tiger gave up the "personal" part of himself when he decided to market brand Tiger and sell that brand to other marketers. When Tiger signed his first endorsement deal, he became a public brand. As with other brands, we as consumers, expect the ones we believe in and buy from to always fulfill their promise and to never do anything that is contrary to what that it stands for. Personal brand is no different than a company brand.

• Brand Tiger affects his partners
 – Once he agreed to represent another brand and accepted a fee, he is responsible on how is actions affect his partners. You are judged by the company you keep. It’s no different when two brands decide to partner in a joint promotion or marketing campaign. For example, if McDonald’s offers a toy from Mattel, but the plastic parts contain a chemical that exposes children to high levels of toxins, McDonald’s takes the lion’s share of the hit in the public’s eyes while Mattel escapes with minor damage.(This example is completely hypothetical.) Brand Tiger does affect his partners, so he is no longer afforded the luxury of keeping personal issues private because his issues becomes his partners’ issues.

• Tiger Woods’ actions affects his value
 – When that happens, you know you’re a brand. When you’re a brand, you’re actions have value, both positive and negative. In 2008 Tiger Woods made about $12 mil. playing golf and about $110 mil. in endorsements. This also has a direct correlation to his advertising partners. Their value rides on his actions as well. That is another reason why his personal actions are open for review, especially by his partners.

I don’t wish any misfortune on Tiger Woods. From hearing opinions from various people about whether his personal business should be off limits by the media, it got me thinking about whether is that really true or not. I my opinion, an individual gives up the privacy card when they decide to sell their personal brand to other partners. As soon as you hit the marketplace as a brand, you are treated like one and held to the same expectations and judgement as other brands, corporate or otherwise. All brands must live their brand promise 24/7/365 or you will lose one of the most important thing you’ve been building over the years, credibility.

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