Less Tiger, More Woods

At a diner recently, I watched a woman putting sugar in her coffee. She liked it sweet. In fact, she liked her coffee sweeter than anyone I've ever seen. Astonished, I watched as she upended the completely full sugar jar, the kind with the little aperture at the top with the little metal tab. She held it there, upended above her cup, letting a stream of sugar cascade into her coffee, not even bothering to stir.

After a minute, I was mulling a call to the local hospital to prepare them for a case of anaphylactic shock. But then something even more remarkable happened. As she gently shook the jar to keep the stream flowing, the screw-on cap fell off, depositing the remaining half a jar's worth of sugar into her cup of coffee.

Now, what the woman had was a cone of brownish sugar in a ceramic cup. She ordered another. They refused. She left, without paying for her cup of sugar. There must be a lesson for Tiger Woods in this.

I'm not a golf fan, but I will say this about its greatest player: I definitely like Tiger better post-crash. And believe it or not, I think that this will do his brand equity some good for a couple of reasons. First, the obvious: we can relate. Okay, maybe not all of us, but those of us who have had our Escalades bashed in by our wives. In my case, it's a bicycle, but still. This proves the man is actually human instead of a golf-playing, sponsorship-signing robot from MIT.



Secondly, the man is overexposed; he's involved in too many brands. If advertising is a cup of coffee, he's the sugar, and the cap fell off long ago. After all, sponsorships, like chemistry, have their saturation point. Tiger reached his back around the time he started trying to convince us that he drives Buicks, or Cadillacs.

There's a real lesson here for marketers: if you are thinking, "Oh, I'm going to sign this new quoits star Cougar Copse because he's morally pitch perfect and, yes, he is with 16 other brands, but he is category exclusive with me," think again. When he appears in ads saying "I love eating at Burger Store," what consumers will see is Cougar smiling at the camera while someone puts a stack of cash in the hand he's holding behind his back. At least with Tiger's Nike Golf deal, there's relevance. But if I see "Go on, be a Tiger" one more time at LaGuardia, I'm going Greyhound. I have no idea what Accenture does, but I'm guessing it has to do with lawn maintenance.

I saw Tiger on a Web video for Gillette two weeks ago, wherein he's being interviewed about his personal style and his shaving habits. He looked kind of tired, as if he'd just gotten off a plane from another marketing gig for someone else. Then I watched it again this weekend, and it was all different. Now it looked as if he'd just had an argument with his wife. I was looking for bruises. What an improvement. Now I could relate!

As for Tiger's public persona, well, what we have lacked -- the non-golfing public, I mean -- is an Aristotelian story line. A hero quest, a fall from grace, a tragedy. And then ... the comeback. All he's given us so far is a tiff with his wife and an errant fire hydrant. Well, that's a start. Go on, Tiger, be a ... schlemiel?

1 comment about "Less Tiger, More Woods ".
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  1. Jerry Foster from Energraphics, December 3, 2009 at 5:34 p.m.

    I agree that much of the male advertising audience will not appreciate brands that turn their back on the man. The issue of Tiger being chased with a golf club by an insecure wife is actually becoming a cause celebre for men's rights types who insist that a man's behavior must not be regulated by threats of physical or financial violence by a member of the opposite sex - whether one is married to the regulation-minded person or not. Here is an example blog post by the infamous Roissy: http://roissy.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/the-tiger-woods-effect/

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