The Tiger Woods Scandal – Lessons in Sponsorship ROI

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In the world of professional golf, the major player of the decade has been Tiger Woods. He has captured the passions of millions of people with his golfing success and contribution to the community over the years. He has enabled many brands to communicate more effectively by being a powerful brand spokesperson and contributed to the community. Up until recently, Tigers sponsors have benefited from such associations being very few negatives associated with the sponsorship. However, with his personal problems coming into the limelight in a very affronting matter to many of his fans, there is a good reason to examine the issue from a sponsorship ROI perspective. Have Tiger Woods actions impacted on his sponsorship value and does it actually damage a sponsor’s brand? If so, how do we measure this? Traditional sponsorship media exposure methods of measuring sponsorship ROI place higher value on increased exposure. It is very simple high exposure = high sponsor ROI. So, based on the exposure valuation method it would seem that suddenly Tiger Woods would be worth a lot more now than before the scandal because he has a great share of the media space. Well that’s the crazy logic of relying on equivalent media value by itself unless you think all exposure is good even the bad stuff. Obviously, that’s not what is happening in reality which indicates that the sponsorship value of brand Tiger is based on more than the exposure a sponsor receives and we need to look at more than that when looking at ROI. It is worth remembering the key rule of sponsorship – is all about PASSION. It is the basis of what sets apart sponsorship from advertising. Advertising interrupts people to deliver a media message whereas sponsorship is communicating through a passion mode. Powerful sports personalities can contribute major ROI for sponsors as they help brands communicate to audiences that are no longer receptive to advertising . It is fair to say that passion has also played a role with Tiger Woods. Passion to succeed has made him a golfing success and it has also be been the cause of his personal problems. When we look at the issue of this scandal is is clear that the Tiger brand has been badly damaged simply by looking at the actions of sponsors and also the reactions of some of the fans. Whilst there are many fans of Tiger out there that are not interested at all in his personal life, there are a significant number that are disappointed. From a sponsorship perspective, the high level of fan support that he did receive in the past has been deflated. His value as a sponsorship property has diminished because there are fewer Tiger Woods fans after the scandal than before. His fan base was so high previously the only way it could really go was down. However, at the same time he remains a very strong property despite these transgressions. Whilst the popularity Tiger Woods is a key driver of sponsorship value for the the sponsor, other aspects are extremely important including sponsorship fit and also sponsor appreciation. They all have an influence on the value of sponorship ROI beyond that measured by media exposure. We can see how brand Tiger performs by looking at some key sponsorship metrics including sponsor fit and sponsor appreciation. Sponsor Fit Is there a fit between a sponsor and a property. For example, do fans like Tiger Woods being sponsored by the brand? If they do think that it is positive, then there remains a good reason to think that Tiger’s sponsorship value is still good. However, if there are many negatives then the sponsor and would be better off moving on. This is best answered by asking the fans themselves and receiving their feedback from a quick survey where we have quantitative numbers to talk about how the sponsor has been effected. If a sponsor was to see that more than 15% of fans dislike the brand being associated with Tiger Woods then that would be an issue. It is the numbers that sponsors would need to see rather than relying on media reports and the more vocal members of the community. Sponsor Gratitude With some sponsorships, appreciation to sponsors is a major influence on effectiveness. What is asks is how much a fan feels appreciation to a sponsor because they sponsor a property. For example, those with high sponsorship activation or those where sports personalities support a worthwhile social cause. This may not have been a major factor in Tiger Woods sponsorships because Tiger Woods has many have been considered very commercial. Nevertheless, this sense of appreciation to a sponsor may have been dramatically changed through the scandal for some of Tiger’s fans whereas for others it would not make that much difference. What Tiger would hope is that the fans remain appreciative to the sponsors themselves especially in relation to the community relations where the sponsors have made a significant contribution. In summary, the sponsorship value of Tiger Woods is driven by the fans, they will either love him or hate him. If the fans remain loyal to Tiger Woods despite his personal problems then the impact on Tiger’s sponsorship ROI will not be as bad as originally thought. Sponsors need to be sure that they understand that the value of their sponsorships is always in the hands of the fans at the end of the day. This involving measuring the attitudes on the fans themselves and listening to their views. The key questions that only a fan can answer are: 1. Are they still passionate about Tiger Woods, 2. Does he fit with a sponsor and lastly 3. Do they appreciate the sponsor for their involvement with Tiger Woods. Only then it fair for us to know the true sponsorship implications of the Tiger Woods scandal especially in relation to his brand value to sponsors.

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. My compliments for your analysis of this “case”. And I agree that a lot evolves around the relationship between Tiger Woods and his fans. But you have to take into account that the fans have an ongoing relationship with him. One survey is a snapshot of that moment, not a trend.
    But it goes without that he’s got to work on it. I’m unfamiliar with his performance with fans so far.
    Also the sponsors that still support him can help. Can help to get the message across that Tiger Woods has a grip on his life again.
    For potential sponsors it can be a window of opportunities. Then again Tiger Woods has to act now.

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