A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
More Woods Backlash
In a statement, Gatorade claims that the decision to drop the drink occurred long before the recent scandal ever took place. The decision to terminate the partnership was actually announced on November 25, shortly before the scandal broke.
The drink represents only five-percent of Gatorade’s total volume. In spite of the media hoopla over Gatorade’s decision to drop Tiger Woods, there are real implications for the fact that this story just broke to mainstream media Tuesday.
Let’s get to the bottom line, shall we?
The decision does not come as a surprise This jaw-dropping scandal has simply gone over the top. Every executive with any relationship with Tiger is nervously watching media reports wondering if the drama is ever going to end, or if women are going to ever stop coming out of the wood work (or shall I say “Woods works”….sorry, bad joke).
Even I am shocked at the new developments that keep coming on the scene every single day. The world is stunned to watch one of the most admired men on earth being reduced to a cheater and sexual deviant. I honestly feel bad for Tiger, because this is not what he deserves – many Americans do things behind closed doors that they would not want 300 million people to observe.
Companies lie all the time I am not accusing Gatorade of lying about their reasoning in the decision to drop Tiger Woods, but the truth is that companies are notorious for stating that they are going to stand behind an athlete and then getting rid of him/her shortly thereafter.
Right after Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive, a long list of companies stated that they would stand by him, and most of them ran the other way shortly thereafter. Many companies (including Nike) are likely taking a wait-and-see attitude with Tiger, and the truth is that other companies may follow Gatorade’s lead. To be on the safe side, most of them are standing firmly behind Tiger until they decide to move on.
Companies don’t like risk Corporations do not like controversy, even if it is relatively good. The corporate model is built on conservatism and minimal risk, which is what made Tiger Woods such a great investment. He wasn’t the athlete to be found carrying a gun into a club or beating his wife.
He was arguably the most consistent brand in America, right next to Beyonce or Oprah Winfrey. On the golf course, Tiger is still that brand. But given the spilled over mismanagement of his sex life, he creates a tremendous amount of uncertainty. Companies can’t put shareholder money at risk in such a significant way.
Gatorade could be the first of many companies to get rid of Tiger When I worked with Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson to challenge Don Imus for his “nappy headed hoe” remarks three years ago, I told them to go after his corporate sponsors.
When the first sponsor left, I knew that there would be an avalanche of companies following suit.
Companies tend to think like sheep: jumping on bandwagons and jumping off of them just as fast. If Gatorade runs away from Tiger, many others may do the same.
Tiger is still going to make gobs of money There is no replacement for the fact that Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer in the history of the world. We must also remember that when Tiger is on the golf course, the PGA tour makes millions from television ratings.
The recent controversy is simply a matter of Woods reconfiguring his public image, allowing room for him to be a little bit of a bad boy. Tiger will rise again, and he will be as great as ever. At that point, the companies will continue to call for his services, but in a different way.
I encourage Tiger to channel the energy of his deceased father and regain his focus. He is still a strong human being, he still needs to break the Jack Nicklaus record of 18 majors, and he is still a great athlete. I expect 2010 to be Tiger’s most outstanding season ever, and I believe that the winner inside him will emerge like never before.