Our Daily Dread: For Tiger’s next step, someone’s already bought the rights to it … and then gave it away

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This ad for the Accenture company was spotted by one reader at New York’s LaGuardia Airport the other day.

“How fitting,” he said.

Another reader said he saw it at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

Talking about getting a lot of buzz for your buck.

Not any more.

Accenture was the first company to cut ties with Tiger Woods on Sunday. The global consulting firm consulted with itself and said that “after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising.”

An interesting thing about golf is that no matter how badly you play, it is always possible to get worse. But you keep going back.

Golfers know about forgiveness. Ad men apparently don’t.

Since Everything Tiger seems to be Everyone’s Business, the business world’s reaction is the next step in the step-by-step story about the Downfall of Tiger Woods. Corporate America is backing away from the putt. For now.

You’re surprised? See Phelps, Michael, i.e. bong.

It seems kind of premature, actually. And hypocritical. But that’s America for you. The panicked, image-conscious business world only reflects the knee-jerk reaction of the prickly, ADD consumers.

If you want to know the truth in advertising, all this only gives Tiger more street cred. If I’m a sponsor, I’m looking for a way to slip into this now at a reduced price. Travelocity, don’t you see the potential? Victoria’s Secret line of “Tiger’s Secret” lingerie?

Just sayin’ …

The reason Tiger is able to step away and take an “indefinite break” from golf is because he’s been raking in more than $100 million a year from sponsorship deals. Gillette and Gatorade have already said they’re cutting back. AT&T isn’t sure yet. That’s their business.

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Nike, meanwhile, says it’s not going anywhere. Phil Knight told the Sports Business Daily that Tiger’s “infidelity” is “part of the game” in signing endorsement deals with athletes.

It was just a blip, he said. And a minor one at that.

“I think he’s been really great,” Knight said in the interview published Monday. “When his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now.”

Good Knight now. Nike is the one making the most sense. Or, the most sense from a man’s perspective. And when a man spends his dollars, he’s more apt to put them with another man who’s had the same sort of life issues as he has.

He who casts the first stone kinda stuff. Like the heads of Gatorade, Gillette or AT&T have never been in such a personal situation based on the inability to handle money, power and fame.

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Tag Heuer, the watchmaker that has been with Woods since 2002, will bide its time as well with Woods. A company spokeswoman said the sponsorship is unchanged because Woods remains the world’s best golfer and Tag Heuer does not care about his private life.

“We respect his performance in the sport,” she said, adding that Woods’ personal life is “not our business.”

Wow. How much are those watches again? I may just buy one now because of that statement. And I’ll put it on my Am Ex card.

What those who are dropping him now fail to see is that, when Tiger does come back, those deserting companies will only inspire him to be better, to prove people wrong. You gotta know Tiger is making a list right now of who’ll be pushed aside when it comes time in 2014 for him to host “Saturday Night Live” — the same show that spoofed PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in a three-episode commercial spoof, showing him drinking out of a flask and justifying how the game will be OK even as sponsors keep dropping out.

“No Tiger? No problem,” says Jason Sudeikis as Finchem in the first spot (linked here).
“I really want to thank our new sponsors: The Madoff Investment Group, Major League Soccer, and the movie, ‘Old Dogs,’” says “Finchem” in the second spot. “The PGA Tour — what else are you gonna do, talk to your wife?”
“The PGA Tour’s back — did I mention the golf cart races,” says “Finchem” in the third spot, where he says he’s on “suicide watch.” “I want to thank our newest sponsors — the Erie, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, the letter ‘Q,’ and seltzer.”

If the PGA Tour needs an exit strategy, it’ll have to pretend that it’s 1994 again. Pre Tiger.

If Tiger needs an exit strategy, he should be examining Kobe Bryant, circa 2004.

When Bryant’s rape allegations came out, most of this biggest sponsors — McDonald’s, Upper Deck, Coke, Spaulding, Nutella — ran scared. Nike, who’d just signed him to a five-year, $40 million deal, didn’t use his likeness in its ads or his face on TV, but it stuck by him.

Has it paid off? You can ask the Kobe and LeBron puppets you see on TV today.

What if these corporate decisions are made in part because spending ad dollars these days are a crazy proposition, no matter who endorses the product?

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A year ago, in fact, Buick dropped Tiger from its campaign, a year early from his contract. General Motors had been giving him about $8 million a year since taking him on with a five-year deal back in early 2004. On the last day of ’08, they cut the deal off.

Because they could see this coming? Now you gotta wonder. But you also gotta wonder about how much GM could afford to spend on its ads when it was applying for federal bailout.

Bailing out on Tiger just came a year early for ‘em. But again, it didn’t hurt that Tiger was driving another GM car — the Cadillac Escallade — when he crashed into the neighbor’s tree trying to avoid the 3-iron on Thankgiving night.

Accenture has had other ads aside from the one above that it put Tiger in. One of them said: “Go on, be a Tiger.”

The one they have going above seems perfect to continue. Why waste a great opportunity with all the exposure you’ve already received for that ad above? Seems like you’re just giving up on one of the best name-recognition campaigns ever conceived for a major athlete.

Maybe you should consult with your ad men again before you accentuate your own problems.

Or then, maybe we shouldn’t pass judgment on someone if we haven’t walked in their Nikes.

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