How much will Tiger’s transgressions cost his brand?
What his endorsers are paying for
Companies like Nike, American Express and Accenture are paying Tiger megabucks to convey certain characteristics they want to be associated with, including:
- Good judgement
- Strategic and tactical brilliance
What his brand is now
Woods has acted in a way fundamentally at odds with these brand traits. He has demonstrated remarkable stupidity and recklessness by sending racy texts and voice mails to his mistress, and by trusting a groupie not to blow his cover in the first place. It was a further bad strategic move to lie to the public in his first apology, wherein he slammed the rumours of infidelity as false and irresponsible.
Tiger’s most recent apology, on the other hand, appears to be genuine. The degree to which he accepts responsibility goes far beyond today’s standard for politicians, celebrities and multimillionaire athletes.
But there’s a big but: in the apology, he pleads for privacy and claims surprise at the intrusions of the media. Which, for a man who chose to compromise his privacy by sending raunchy texts and voicemails, is hypocrisy of the highest order.
People, Americans in particular, can be very forgiving. What they just can’t stand is hypocrisy.
What the future holds
The future of Tiger’s brand value is very much dependent on the intensity of the media circus around him. If Tiger continues to rail against these intrusions while further examples appear of his recklessness – and hence voluntary relinquishment of privacy – the media and the public will be tough on him. And so will his endorsers.