Tiger: From On Par With Jobs To ... Jerry Springer?
The list of brands dropping Tiger Woods isn't as long as the list of Tiger's alleged trysts -- but so far, Accenture, TagHeuer, and Gillette are no longer using him in their ads. Neither is Gatorade or Nike, although only Accenture has formally dropped the golf star.
So how bad have things gotten? Well, the measure may be less evident in his relationship with brands than in his rep with fans. Los Angeles-based celebrity marketing firm Davie Brown Entertainment, a unit of Omnicom's Marketing Arm, has new stats suggesting that in the public eye, the star has gone from being on par with Sean Connery and George F. Will to about the level of Chris Brown and Dolf Lundgren.
The index ranks some 2,400 celebrities on their ability to influence brand affinity and consumer purchase intent. Rankings are elaborated from a national sample of 1,000 respondents who are shown the name and face of a celebrity and asked if they are aware of the individual. Those who are aware get a standard set of questions about that person, the results of which form the basis of scores on seven attributes: appeal, breakthrough (how noticeable they are when they appear on TV, print or film); trendsetter; influence, trust, endorsement and aspiration.
While Woods' overall rank based on the seven parameters dropped from No. 6 before the scandal to No. 78 now, the big losses are in aspiration and appeal. In the former, he dropped from 9 to 2,325, putting him in the company of brawling L.A. Lakers star Ron Artest, Jerry Springer and Al Sharpton. Before the crisis, he was on par with Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg and Warren Buffett as an aspirational celebrity.
In appeal, he dropped from 96 to 2,252, putting him in the realm of mega-stars Dolph Lundgren and Kid Rock and A-Rod, whose girlfriend at least is in a new movie. Before the crisis, his appeal score was on par with Matt Damon, Frank Sinatra and Meg Ryan, per the firm.
The extent to which Woods is a trusted icon has also plummeted, falling from 117 to 2,161. In Davie Brown's Index, he has gone from being as trusted as Sean Connery and George F. Will to on par with Pauly Shore, Bode Miller, and Jane Fonda. In endorsement capacity, he dropped from 11 to 1,681 -- somewhat better than Chris Brown, Mel Gibson and A-Rod.
Chris Anderson of The Marketing Arm, who handles communications and worked for 10 years in crisis management and taught that specialty at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Woods can recover, but not fast.
"It won't happen quickly. The truth is, it takes years to build a reputation and only moments to destroy it," he says, adding that the first step is to quit hiding. "Had he done what Letterman did -- come out on national TV and acknowledge what's happened, then apologize to his wife and demonstrate true remorse -- most people would have already moved on."
And Woods needs to be on his best behavior for the next few years. "Make things right with your wife -- even if she's your ex-wife. Grow up. Be a better father," says Anderson. "Finally, get back on the course and win some tournaments. Nothing will make people forget about this mess faster than if you win. Look at Kobe. Sorry, Tiger, no quick fixes here."