Commentary

Nike Cashes In On Sticking With Woods While Other Brands Fled

When Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament, Nike won a grueling ultramarathon. It stuck with the golfer through some career-threatening travails -- both professional and personal -- as other brands dropped out along the way.

After 11 years without a victory in a major tournament, “Woods won his 15th major and fifth Masters on Sunday, and Nike commemorated the victory with a new ad looking back at Woods’ rise through the golf world beginning at three years old,” writes Michael Shapiro for Sports Illustrated

“Nike’s new spot touches on both the highs and lows of Woods’ career, including his string of back injuries over the last decade. It ends with a young Woods looking into the camera and saying, ‘I'm gonna beat Jack Nicklaus,’” Shapiro continues.

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“It should come as no surprise that the Swoosh had a commemorative ad ready to roll after the final putt dropped, capitalizing on this historic moment. The video, which Nike tweeted out with the caption ‘Never stop chasing your crazy dream #justdoit,’ will hit you in every feel imaginable. Enjoy, and have the tissues ready,” writes Christopher Powers for Golf Digest.

Woods last won the Masters in 2005, and most of the headlines since then have been about troubles in his private life -- even the “positive” ones. That, as you might imagine, has diminished his appeal as a spokesman.

“Woods was one of the most powerful brand endorsers on Madison Avenue before marital infidelities surfaced almost a decade ago. Amid the torrent of damaging revelations, blue-chip brands pulled their support and the tens of millions of dollars they were paying him. AT&T Inc., Accenture PLC, PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade and Procter & Gamble Co.’s Gillette dropped Mr. Woods and others, like Tag Heuer, later declined to renew their deals,” Suzanne Vranica and Khadeeja Safdar report for the Wall Street Journal.

“In 2010, the golfer’s endorsement worthiness score was 51.27, which is comparable to the current rank of actor Charlie Sheen and disgraced former cyclist and onetime Nike endorser Lance Armstrong, according to an index put out by the Marketing Arm, which polls consumers to evaluate celebrity appeal, image and influence on consumer buying behaviors,” they continue. “Over the past few years, Mr. Woods’s endorsement score has improved somewhat, reaching 56.6 in January, but remains well below its peak.”

But with everyone from Barack Obama  to Donald Trump  hailing Sunday’s victory, the upside potential became manifest the moment “Woods, 43, raised his arms triumphantly on the 18th green while wearing his Sunday red Nike shirt, the same as he had worn in his first major win at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia in 1997,” as Ross Ibbetson writes for the Daily Mail.

“Nike's gamble to stick by Woods throughout his major-winning curse meant they cashed in to the tune of $22,540,000 in estimated advertising revenue when their logos were splashed all over his triumphant moment and hugs with his family and girlfriend, Erica Herman, Apex Marketing found,” Ibbetson points out.

It also proved to be a lucrative day on Wall Street, where “investors pushed the stock to $86.83 a share Monday, up from $85 a share on Thursday when the tournament began. For Nike, it was a $4 billion gain in its valuation,” Lisa Fickenscher writes for the New York Post.

The President tweeted yesterday that he will present Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom “because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE.”

But, as some have pointed out, it’s a comeback -- and life -- still very much in progress.

“Everyone who has lost faith in our species should celebrate the latest chapter in the Tiger Woods saga. Every person who has ever given up hope after falling on hard times should take solace that Woods has proven, in case they had forgotten, that the human spirit is capable of overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds,” writes long-time observer John Zeigler for Mediaite.

“But with all that said, President Donald Trump’s declaration earlier Monday that he would present Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom is, at best, premature, and quite possibly absurd,” Zeigler states. “Tiger is simply too young to receive this kind of honor, especially given his checkered history and the fact that almost all of his accomplishments have been on the golf course, rather than, for instance, trying to cure cancer.”

But for Nike, the payoff of millions of fans seeing Woods raise a clenched fist in victory amid the Swooshes on hat, shirt and shoes, is immediate, immense and well-earned.

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