Every time I decide that I will not again write on celebrities and their role as brand ambassadors, some one comes out of the woods and drag me into this.. Well there is a pun there and I must confess that it just came in a flow.. The topic is Woods and all the brouhaha that surrounds him as more and more women appear from the woods ( ohh the pun again) proving that the ace golfer had a huge fascination for holes, on the green turf and otherwise..
It’s a classic case of brands failing… Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods or simply Tiger woods was a brand by himself – a great performer and a real consistent one at that and no matter what now his play boy like image is, till last month he was the most revered icon for the sports world… … High performance delivered every time and for years now.. and that is the profit that his brands (the ones he endorsed) reaped from his aura.. Accenture for years bet on him and him only, portraying his ability to key putt or chip out of the rough and said “High performance delivered” ….Accenture has successfully used Woods to personify its claimed attributes of integrity and high performance.… Now Accenture was the first to forsake the star whose one flaw ( integrity was his other name !) seemingly has become the single most rallying point for the whole world…
It is not woods alone.. History of endorsements is laden with examples of erring celebrities putting brands that depend on them (some cases entirely on them) into disarray… Michael Jackson, and Mike Tyson , to Ben Johnson and Hanse cronje , Britney spears to as recently Micheal Phelps ( for smoking bong -a variant of marijuana, Kellogs dropped him from its endorser list) .. Phelps was dropped not withstanding the fact that the packets of Kellogs with his pics were an instant hit and became a collectors item..
For Accenture the golfer is "no longer the right representative" after the "circumstances of the last two weeks." Said the embarrassed Accenture…The move ends a six-year relationship during which the firm credited its "Go on, be a Tiger" campaign with boosting its image significantly…. Woods was an exception to the serious brand dilution that celebrities were going through.. Not that he was very choosy.. he came for Nike ,American Express, Gillette,General Motors' Buick, Electronic Arts and Tag Heuer watches but for Accenture he stood tall and almost the axis of its entire advertising and when in bad times, this sole dependence has landed the brand and its agency Young and Rubicam, in a tight soup.. they now want to replace all the Woods ads- Tvc’s , hoardings etc… but with what? No alternate strategy was ever in place, with Woods in ….
Woods was so special for his brand owners.. so much so that he appeared with the Nike Swoosh on Accenture ads, his golf bag features a Buick logo even while he endorses Nike and so on… whether this was a proof of brilliance of Nike's Tiger Woods arrangement that other advertisers didn’t mind the presence of the swoosh in their ads or was it simply because they had no option and if they want to use Tiger, they had to turn blind, is still debatable but in the new and changed Wood world it all seems irrelevant..
Gillette and its ads said “the best a man can get” and again Woods was the right match… Now that he has reached a point which certainly is not the best a man can get and where no man ever will want to be, brands one by one are dropping him like hot potato… this is the peril of celebrity endorsements ….
Forbes just a month back described tiger woods as “it's no secret that Tiger Woods is a marketer's dream. The appeal of the good looking, clean-cut, articulate, scandal-free golf whiz is just amazing”…. Now with this fall, which is more personal than professional, (Remember Woods haven’t cheated in his game of golf like a Hanse cronje or Ben Johnson) ads and brands that bet their entire purse on one person, simply because he/ she is a celebrity will think twice .. at least more and serious thoughts of clubbing such endorsement deals with moral clauses attached would be seriously talked about..
Not that a moral clause would have made a Woods to think twice every time he went for an escapade, but that the brands will have lesser losses , financially ,when the enodorses errs… (For the uninitiated, Morals clauses are standard contract terms that allow advertisers to renege on their deals with celebrities if the stars behave badly and ruin their ad plans — as Tiger has done.)…
Wishing Woods a recovery from this personal calamity and hoping to see him again in his turf, playing Golf and endorsing brands.. after all coming back can be more sweeter… and as per his own statement “You can always become better.”
Wishing all the brands that he was with, a smooth transition period …