Is The Tiger Woods Brand in Danger?
No athlete has experienced such a drastic fall from grace as Tiger Woods. From being on top of the sports world to becoming a punch line on late shows everywhere, Tiger finds himself in a public image nightmare. His notoriously private personal life is now under the spotlight of the tabloid circus, which flips and shapes the story to fit every new claim made by a Hollywood waitress.
No doubt this is a trying time for the superstar athlete. But does he deserve such intense media scrutiny? And is the multi-million dollar brand that is Tiger Woods threatened?
As much as Tiger says this is a “private” matter, it is not. While he himself didn’t open the doors to his private life, his position as an immense public figure warrants the attention. Unfair as it may be, his golf skills made him a superstar; his private affairs will bring him back down to reality.
Tiger himself never asked to be framed as such a squeaky-clean persona. The media and his endorsements painted him as such. Consequently, in the age of the 24-hour news cycle, perception = reality. With millions made from selling that flawless public image, he now has to defend it against the same people who just weeks ago did nothing but sing his laurels. That’s just how it is.
The chance of Tiger losing his corporate sponsorships is still unlikely. However, the volatility of this continuing saga may be beginning to catch up with him. Bloomberg reports 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 longer the tabloid-driven story continues to gain momentum, the greater the danger it has of permanently tarnishing the Tiger Woods brand. As many PR gurus have suggested (who I won’t even pretend to be in the same league as), Tiger needs to get ahead of the story and come clean. The devil is in the details, and right now the tabloids are filling in the details. Staying silent will only continue to fuel the fire.
In the end, Tiger can take a page from Kobe Bryant and Michael Phelps – by putting as much as possible out in the open, apologizing, and then immediately begin rebuilding himself and his family.