Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sponsorships at risk if Tiger doesn't improve play

Tiger Woods' Sponsors can afford to be patient despite the worst performance of the star golfer's career, but his wallet will feel the pain if he cannot recapture his dominance. The world's No. 1 golfer produced his worst finish on the US PGA Tour circuit at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this past weekend, stringing together four over-par rounds to finish near the bottom.Having already lost up to $35 million in annual sponsorship revenue when such companies as Accenture Plc and AT&T Inc scotched endorsement deals following revelations of his marital infidelities, Woods can't afford repeated whiffs.

"There's no doubt his pathetic play this past weekend has many people questioning whether he can actually come back to his old form," said Marc Ganis, president of consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. "For the first time ever, people are doubting Tiger Woods a competitive golfer. "If he continues playing this poorly, his value as an endorser will decrease dramatically," Ganis added. "The only question is how long does he have to enhance his play. I'd say he's got a while, months if not a year or two."

Woods, who has yet to win this year after eight PGA Tour starts, also cannot just be competitive if he wants to retain his perch as the world's richest pitchman. He must return to past dominance with multiple wins, analysts said. "No one's going to touch him while he's losing," said Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment, which matches celebrities with companies for endorsements, about new deals. "You could say 'buy low,' but people think it's too early."

Studies seem to bear that out. In the latest Davie Brown Index, used by corporate clients to determine a celebrity's ability to influence consumers, Woods' appeal ranked 2,479th, down slightly from April and from 96th before the scandal. That puts him in the company of disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis and actor Mel Gibson. Before the scandal, he was in the company of actor Matt Damon and the late crooner Frank Sinatra.


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