Thu, Apr 29, 2010
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s highly likely you and the rest of the world have been following the exploits of Tiger Woods off the golf course. From the moment news first broke last November that Tiger had crashed his Escalade into a tree outside his Florida estate, the life of Tiger Woods began to spiral out of control. For each alleged account of infidelity that surfaced, Woods’ brand equity took a massive hit. As alleged mistresses stepped forward, advertisers stepped back. It got to the point where Tiger Woods gave a press conference making a very public apology and vowing to take time off from his biggest employer – the world of golf.
It’s hard to say which of Tiger’s employers felt the biggest blow; the advertisers who invested billions in Woods over the years, or the game of golf itself.
Where do employers draw the line when rock star performers deliver in the office, but become personal nightmares in a very public way? How long do employers continue to invest in the employee and at what cost?
As other advertisers dropped Woods from their roster, Nike stood by their man. Was this the best move for Nike? The recent controversial Tiger Woods’ Nike ad featuring the voice of Tiger’s deceased father aired to very mixed reviews. Thumbs up or thumbs down, the ad did get noticed. However, recent reports indicate more people have watched spoofs of the Tiger Woods’ Nike ad than those who watched the actual ad.
But as news began to spread that Woods would return to golf sooner rather than later, and would ultimately compete in the Master’s, the world of golf began to rally around their favorite prodigal son.
In the end, as TV ratings soared through the roof, it appears CBS and the Master’s were the biggest winners. And as Tiger Woods stood on the sidelines watching Phil Mickelson hug his wife and don the green jacket, it appears with all Tiger had lost, the world of golf will continue to employ him. The jury may still be out on Tiger’s endorsements, but for now, with all the controversy spurned over the recent ad, perhaps Nike also took a gamble that paid off.
So while Tiger may not be out of the woods with his fans, or other advertisers, the PGA continues to welcome him with open arms.
When a high performer’s negative personal brand affects your company brand, when do you cut the cord? What advice do you have for employers trying to manage all-star employees whose personal lives are off the tracks?