Tiger Woods remains the world’s most well-known professional athlete. This has been the case for most of my life, but I have never before questioned what led to his progression as a household name. I can’t speak for all Americans, but I feel certain that of the hundreds of millions of citizens across the world that revere him as an athlete, few consistently watch Tiger Woods play golf. In Naomi Klein’s book, No Logo, she examines the role of advertising, sponsorship, and celebrities, describing Nike’s creation of Michael Jordan’s god-like image. She argues that were it not for Nike’s retention of Michael Jordan as “The Branded Star”, or their conceptual ad campaign including images that depict his ability to almost ‘fly’ across the court, neither brand (Jordan or Nike) would have secured such enormous profits and brand recognition. While this book was written over a decade ago, what it contends still applies.
Tiger Woods gained world recognition and windfall sponsorship profits largely due to his contracts with Nike and Accenture. Just as Woods created a Nike image of the perfect athlete and an image of Accenture as maintaining consistent performance, both corporations bolstered Tiger Woods’ image as well. Multi-million dollar contracts between Woods and these two companies were not wasted.
When I peruse the Economist, I always encounter this Accenture advert.
But I am not drawn in by this sheep in the same way I was by their ads depicting athlete Tiger Woods brandishing his almost magical golf club in the air. Not only do their recent ads fail to grab my attention, but when I look upon their company all I can think about is Tiger Woods. Indeed Tiger Woods is as ingrained in this consulting company’s image as Michael Jordan was in Nike decades ago. Too bad for Accenture that the recent exposure of his despicable infidelities will continue to tarnish their company image even after they severed ties with him.
Ironic that a corporation that once spent millions of dollars sponsoring Tiger Woods is so eager to disassociate their company’s image with Tiger Woods. What I found even more surprising was the apparel worn by Tiger throughout Accenture’s ad campaign. Donning Nike labeled hats and sweaters seems appropriate given the $40 million a year contract that Woods secured as their prominent sponsor, but it almost seemed to contradict this advert for Accenture.
After reading two chapters of No Logo, I almost wonder if the exposure of Woods’ extramarital affair was somewhat welcomed by his sponsors. While this might be an asinine assumption given the losses that some of his sponsors suffered, couldn’t one argue that like Michael Jordan, Tiger had become his own brand? Perhaps he became a little too big for his Nike monogrammed shirts.