Is Tiger Out of the Woods?
The Short Answer: Not likely
KDP's Update as of 12/16: What with more (and more) women joining the chorus and Accenture dropping him, it's looking grimmer all the time. Until he comes clean and tells all his reputation is unsalvageable. Accenture has no back up plan for advertising so it must be really, really bad. Remember, they’re a research and accounting firm. I bet the decline in support is worse than we have heard.
When you google "PR" and "Tiger Woods" you get 12,700,000 results. So I wonder, as I start to write this, if it's possible to say anything that hasn't already been said. Trust me, I'm not about to weigh in on what he should or should not have done last weekend when the story broke.
What I will address is the ROI of the situation: Can his reputation be saved and what has is silence and stonewalling cost him?
I didn't do a detailed analysis of the 20,100 comments left in response to the statement he left on his website, but the gist of them was: Come clean and we'll support you. Sure, there are many people out there that feel that their hero let them down and should be punished in all manner of ways. But far more seem to feel that, if he comes clean, commits to his wife and family that he won't do it again, continues to play great golf, and doesn't stray again, then he's okay in their book. Those are some pretty big ifs. But Tiger's got some pretty big incentives to go along with them – e.g. millions of dollars in sponsorships.
What's the worst that can happen? Let's look at his sponsors and their audiences and check the downside:
- The absolute worse that can happen is that because of all this fuss, Tiger loses his edge and stops winning golf tournaments. Granted, family turmoil is a drain on anyone's attention. But if anyone can rise above mental challenges, Tiger has already proven that he can.
- Are there enough angry fans to start a boycott? Unlikely, but even if they did, would Accenture care? I doubt it. If anything, he becomes a more intriguing figure now that he's been found to be just as flawed as the rest of the CEOs and other influencers that Accenture is wooing.
- Does his picture in a razor blade ad for Gillette, or in a video game for Electronic Arts, somehow diminish the value of the product? Maybe for a month or two, but unless he transgresses again, there's little chance of long term value loss. We have just heard that Gatorade apparently dropped Tiger's endorsement. And that he may be losing other sponsors as well.
And what are the chances that he'll stick to the straight and narrow? We all know that, when it comes to sex, brains go out the window. But Tiger definitely isn't dumb, and he's one man who we'd expect to keep himself under control. And one would hope that he has learned a thing or two about the digital age from this episode. No one is good enough to cover all their tracks any more. Look at the David Letterman confession – he got it. He knew that there was no way to keep secrets in this Twitter-First Century.
And let's not speculate as to how much better this would have gone for Tiger had he followed Letterman's lead. He didn't, he blew it, and the media isn't going to leave him alone for a month or two. Or at least until the next affair is revealed.
But will the present episode have any long term impact on his reputation or his "brand?" Probably not, but it all depends on how he plays it. --KDP