Tiger Woods used to be a sure bet in the marketing world. But in late 2009, when his personal life became tabloid fodder, his sponsors left him in droves. AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Gatorade, Gillette, and Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN) were among the companies to cut ties with the world’s best golfer. Three years of mediocre golf followed, and few sponsors came knocking on Tiger’s door with big money deals.
In 2013, he’s beginning to be the hot brand that he once was, after the hot start to his professional career. This week at the U.S. Open, there are three companies making big bets on a strong week for Tiger.
NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE)
No company has made a bigger bet on him than NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE). The company signed him to a five-year, $40 million deal when he turned pro in 1996 and has reportedly paid him as much as $40 million annually over the past five years.
For NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE), a sponsorship with Tiger is more than its typical sponsorship. He almost singlehandedly made NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) Golf relevant when he signed on with the company and has made it one of the preeminent brands in golf. Rory McIlroy is Nike’s second biggest golf sponsor, but his career is just getting started, and he’s not nearly the figure Tiger is.
There’s also the matter of a new contract Tiger and NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) have to worry about. Their current contract runs out soon, and Tiger reportedly wants $40 million again to re-up with Nike. That’s a lot of coin for one athlete, but when he makes your brand relevant in golf, it might be worth it.
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA)
Without Tiger Woods, golf video games are virtually nonexistent. On the other hand, even with Tiger, golf games aren’t flying off the shelves.
According to video-game tracker vgchartz.com, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 has sold just 100,000 units each for the PS3 and Xbox 360. That’s a far cry from 2003, when the game sold 1.64 million units on the PS2. There’s been a falloff in game sales recently, and one of the drivers is Tiger’s performance in majors. This week, he has a chance to win the U.S. Open, and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) has a lot to gain if he does.
Wait: I’m following Nike and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) with Fuse Science? Who the heck is this?
Fuse Science makes energy and electrolyte “drops” and a roll-on that’s supposed to protect against fatigue (see the website here). I tried these products over the past few weeks on the golf course and didn’t feel any effects, although I didn’t fall asleep during the round I took the energy shots. Maybe there’s a greater impact to athletes with a higher skill level than Yours Truly?
The company has managed to sign up athletes such as Tiger Woods, Arian Foster, Paul Pierce, and Paul Rodriguez as sponsors but hasn’t made much of a splash in the financial markets. Only $56,622 of product was sold in the first three months of the year, although that’s more than double a year ago. Tiger is the centerpiece of the company’s growth strategy.