Tiger ready to win back advertisers

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Dressed in Sunday red, hands on hips, Tiger Woods stood at the edge of a rocky drop-off and stared at the water below.

During the first nine months of 2009, Tiger Woods appeared in $70 million worth of ads. In the first nine months of this year, following news of his affairs, his ads totaled $700,000.  Associated Press
Associated Press
During the first nine months of 2009, Tiger Woods appeared in $70 million worth of ads. In the first nine months of this year, following news of his affairs, his ads totaled $700,000.

"It's what you do next that counts," the Accenture ad said.

For six years, those ads featuring Woods could be found in every corner of the world.

"We know what it takes to be a Tiger."

"Go on, be a Tiger."

When Woods ran his SUV over a fire hydrant last Nov. 27, unleashing a torrent of tawdry and shocking details about his infidelities, those clever catch phrases quickly became punchlines. Within weeks, Accenture and other sponsors distanced themselves from the golfer who had built a billion-dollar industry on his spectacular success on the course and impeccable image off it.

Nearly a year has passed, and Woods appears ready to re-enter the marketing game. A recent survey to test Woods' appeal produced "very powerful, positive, positive results," his longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, said.

"We are a society of second chances. That's been proven over the years," Steinberg said. "He's not going to be in any deal until he looks the company in the eye and has a serious conversation with them. 'How are you going to live your life? We want to be part of the redemption, rehabilitation. Are you serious about that?' And he knows that. He's comfortable with it. And he's going to do that."

After the crash, sponsors found themselves being pulled down by the weight of the scandal. Accenture dumped Woods. AT&T Inc., whose logo was on Woods' bag, and Gatorade, which had created a Tiger Woods-brand drink, soon followed.

According to Kantar Media, Woods appeared in about $700,000 worth of advertising during the first nine months of this year, all for EA Sports and Nike. In the same period a year ago, Woods appeared in $70 million worth of advertising.

Companies such as Nike and EA Sports remained loyal, and those relationships provide a blueprint for future deals.

Though Steinberg did not give specifics, he said he is talking with an Asian company based outside of China about an endorsement deal. He also said Woods will have a new logo on his bag "at some point next year"; the Tiger Woods Foundation logo was on his bag at the HSBC Champions and Australian Masters.

"I feel pretty positive that we'll start to slowly build back his partnership base," Steinberg said.


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