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Tiger Woods demonstrated at this year's Masters tournament that he still has what it takes to compete — and win — at golf. Branding experts say his single-stroke victory on Sunday also shows that Woods, at 43, is still a winning investment for Nike and his other sponsors.
Woods delivered $22.5 million in media exposure for Nike during the tournament on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group.
“He’s eclipsed what he provided Nike in brand exposure for the four majors last year with just this one major,” said Apex managing partner Eric Smallwood. “He’s got that drive now and he’s playing the best golf he’s played in recent years. I think he’s going to continue to provide Nike with enhanced exposure because the TV is going to follow him.”
President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Monday that he would be awarding Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!" Trump tweeted.
Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising, said Woods’ victory — especially if it is followed by future wins — could go a long way to helping him re-engage the wide variety of brands he endorsed before a sex scandal and tabloid-ready divorce prompted brands like Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T to drop him.
“It legitimizes him — there were certainly questions about whether he was still viable,” he said.
“If anything, he’s probably become more valuable,” said Scott Kirkpatrick, a partner at Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners. “I would say everybody who’s on his bag and his partners are getting more of a return than they expected,” he said. In addition to the boost in brand exposure for Nike, Apex Marketing Group estimated that Woods generated roughly a combined $1 million in exposure for sponsors Monster and Bridgestone during the event.
After Woods unexpectedly won the Tour Championship last year, many wondered if he would be able to mount a successful second act. Kirkpatrick said yesterday’s win gives marketers the confirmation they need. “There was talk of a comeback and now it’s more than real,” he said.
This is good news for sponsors seeking a return on their investment, and for Woods’ own bottom line. “I would not be surprised if, in the long run, this win yesterday at Augusta is worth $50 to $100 million in future benefits to Tiger. He will see revenue streams from this win for years to come,” said Richard Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.
“His appearance fees go up. If he is involved in designing golf courses, his fee goes up. His next Nike contract may be worth more,” he said, adding that Woods might also have clauses or licensing agreements in his current Nike contract that could earn him more money.
If Woods continues to play and win, more types of companies might consider him a viable pitchman. Although in his waning years as a professional golfer, Woods’ age could make him an attractive endorser for categories ranging from financial services to travel to pharmaceutical companies catering to an older demographic.
As a brand ambassador for Rolex, Apex Marketing Group estimated that Woods generated $2.3 million in post-event media exposure for the watchmaker after winning the Masters on Sunday, with widely circulated photos showing Woods holding his trophy with a Rolex on his wrist.
“Golfers have a long shelf life, more than other endorsers who are only popular in their sport for a limited number of years,” Dorfman said.
Robert Dilenschneider, founder and principal of the Dilenschneider Group, said the family-friendly image of Woods celebrating his win with family would be a strategic persona to focus on as he targets a more mature demographic. “Continue developing the image he advanced yesterday,” he said.
“If I was him, I’d have a press conference with his mother next to him and his son on his knee. People aren’t going to forget what happened 10 years ago, but Tiger has a chance here.”