Nike’s Big Investment

7 04 2010

On the eve of his return to golf, Nike premiered a new Tiger Woods ad. (Image via

As I previously mentioned, Nike was one of the few sponsors to stick with Tiger Woods through his PR disaster.  While Accenture, Gatorade, and AT&T abandoned Woods, Nike and EA Games loyalty remained by Woods’ side.

And on the eve of Tiger Wood’s return to golf, Nike took their loyalty to a whole new level.

The sports apparel company aired a 30-second commercial tonight on ESPN and the Golf Channel.  It  featured a close-up of Woods, decked in Nike gear, listening to questions from his late father, Earl.

“Tiger, I am more prone to being inquisitive, to promote discussion,” Earl says in the spot. “I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?”

As Dr. Walter Guarino, strategic communication professor at Seton Hall University and president of SGW Advertising Agency, told CNBC’s Darren Rovell, “Nike is really going to bat for Tiger and truly protecting their long time investment in him.”

It’s definitely a risk, but if Woods does well in the Masters tomorrow, this faithfulness will likely translate to huge revenues.

Fans are ready for Woods’ return.  According to an ESPN SportsNation poll, 52% of voters hope to see Woods win the Masters.  And while visitors do not reflect the entire population, they do reflect Woods’ — and Nike’s — core audience.  Fans who appreciate Tiger for his golf skills (and not his celebrity) are the ones buying Tiger’s Nike gear.

While the content of Nike’s new Tiger Woods ad is debatable, the fact that the company once again forcefully aligned itself with Woods was a smart move.  Nike has already built an $800 million business on his back, and stuck with him through his transgressions, so they might as well get in on what could be the greatest comeback in sports history.

What did you think of the ad? Watch it here:


Why Obama Is Not A (Sports)Fan-Favorite

31 03 2010

Sports fans are predominently Republican, according to a recent study. (Image via Snagwire Media)

It turns out your favorite sport may predict whether you are more likely to vote along Republican or Democratic party lines.

A recent study by GOP think tank, National Media Inc. analyzed the correlations between viewers’ favorite sports and their voting habits.

According to the study, the PGA Tour has the strongest Republican base.  GOPers also tend to follow College football, Nascar, and the NHL more than their Democratic counterparts.

Meanwhile, the WNBA  has the greatest percentage of left-leaning fans. Democrats also tend to favor NBA, the WWE, and Men’s and Women’s tennis.

Overall, however, sports fans are more likely to swing right.  Dedicated fans are also more likely to vote than those who are not.

As Hotline On Call points out, these statistics could have important implications for those running political ad campaigns.  The Republican base is notoriously harder to reach through ads, and viewers typically stick around more for commercials during a sporting event.

So next time you sit down to watch the Lakers play, or watch Tiger hit the course in the PGA Tour, keep an eye out for politically aligned commercials trying to reach their target base.

With The Exception of Tiger Woods, Sponsorships Remain A Good Business

2 03 2010

Tiger Woods and his sponsors have had a rough few months, but as a whole, the sports sponsorship market did considerably well last year.

Gatorade dropped Woods, but overall sports sponsorships are strong (image via

While Nike and EA Games have stood by Woods’ side throughout his drawn out ordeal, Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T dropped their sponsorship deals with the number one golfer.

But according to The World Sponsorship Monitor Annual Review,  sports sponsorships remained relatively stable between 2008 and 2009, Sports Business reports.

The report states that athletic sponsorship deals are still the most popular, accounting for 88% of all endorsements.

Including McDonald’s recent deal with LeBron James,  sports sponsorships actually rose 15% in 2009 compared to 2008.

And despite the Woods fatalities, the number of dropped endorsements remained the same at 8%, according to Sports Business.

Taking into account the decline in advertising due to the recession, these numbers indicate a strong market that could surge in the next few years.

For athletes looking to supplement their athletic endeavors with extra income and for corporations seeking to build their brand to a broader base, this speaks well for the future.

Peyton Takes Over Tiger’s Role

2 02 2010

Peyton Manning voted the next Tiger Woods (

Here are two sports business posts I wrote today over at Business Insider:

Peyton Manning Is The New Tiger Woods

With Tiger Woods still in hiding and dealing with his sex addiction, Peyton Manning is stepping up to be the country’s favorite athlete. Read More

Fox, ESPN, Time Warner Wrestling NBC For Olympics Rights

NBC will lose its decade-long stronghold on rights to the Olympics if Fox and ESPN get their way.  Read More

Check them out!

EA Games One of Few to Stick with Woods

26 01 2010

In my last post of 2009, I argued that Tiger Woods’ sponsors and true fans would not abandon him because of his “transgressions.”

Luckily, I included this disclaimer: unless – that is – his personal life starts affecting his professional life, because only two of his sponsors have faithfully stood by him.

If Woods had immediately hit the course, he would have reminded his fans – and his sponsors – why he was their favorite in the first place: the guy can golf.

But Woods is M.I.A. and the majority of his sponsors responded by ditching him.  As I said in my last post, this is a bad move because Woods will be back.  And when he is, corporations will be lining up to sign deals.

EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 to be released in June (

Nike and EA Sports seem to be the only original sponsors who will still be with Woods when he decides to step back onto the course.  Since the golfer’s Thanksgiving accident, the two brands have continued their sponsorship deals.  EA Sports is continuing its plans to release its Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 in June.

EA Sports president Peter Moore recently talked to USA Today about the company’s decision to stick with the Tiger Woods brand, as well as the impact of Tiger’s absence on the PGA:

Tiger the golfer is what this is all about and we recognize some of the personal challenges he is having right now because he is very important to us. He is the world’s greatest golfer of this current era. He is (the Associated Press’) greatest athlete of the decade. We stand by him for everything he has done to build our franchise. And this latest announcement both of the new console games, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which we announced in conjunction with our open beta of Tiger Woods Online, which is a strategic imperative for the company not just EA Sports — it all comes under the brand of Tiger Woods and we continue to stand by him as the world’s greatest golfer.

The video game’s release will be the first true gauge of Woods’ fan appeal.  If the game lives up to previous tours’ sales, fellow sponsors will likely lighten up, and – hopefully – Woods will hit the course.

Why No One (Except his Wife) Should Care about Tiger’s Trangressions

7 12 2009

Ever since he ran his Escalade into a tree, the world has been a buzz with everything Tiger Woods. As scandalous details continued to be uncovered, the discussion fell to just how much this story will hurt the icon’s business.

Notice that this discussion didn’t last long. While Woods’ sponsors surely took a moment to lament his “transgressions,” it is extremely unlikely that any of them will ditch the player anytime soon (unless – that is – his personal life starts affecting his professional life.) In fact, each of his big-name sponsors followed his public statement with their own, in which they showed their unwavering support for the world’s number one golfer/ their cash cow.

It is unlikely Tiger's trangressions will cost him more than his marriage (

In the past few years, Woods has partnered with some of the greatest corporate brands on the planet. In doing so, he not only planted himself on the fast track to becoming the first billionaire athlete, but also made millions for his sponsors. According to, “Nike has built an $800 million (sales) business on his back; The Tiger Woods EA Sports PGA Tour series – now in its 12th incarnation – is one of the most popular videogames on the market; and Pepsi-Co launched a line of Gatorade Tiger sports drinks last year.”

Not only do these sponsors not want to lose this business, they more importantly do not want to lose this business to someone else. If any one of these corporations were to break contract with Woods, it would only take seconds for another competitor to cash in on the golfer’s success. And it’s not like these corporations have another golfer to turn to. According to the E-Poll Market Research on, Phil Mickelson is the golfer with the second highest public awareness – of 25% – a number that pales in comparison to Woods’ 82%.

The idea that true sports fans are going to stop rooting for their favorite athlete based on infidelity is unsubstantiated. If that were the case, very few athletes would have fans at all. Sponsors – and fans – do not adore Tiger because he is a good guy. Padraig Harrington is probably a good guy, but the majority of people haven’t heard of him. That’s because he can’t pick up a golf club and do what Tiger can. In fact, no one can.

Tiger Woods made golf popular. As Kurt Badenhausen points out in his article, Save The Tiger, “the top three TV ratings in the history of the U.S. Open were all Woods victories, in 200, 2002, and 2008. The ratings during the fourth round of the 2008 U.S. Open where Woods completed on a torn knee ligament and a double stress fracture in his leg beat those of Game 5 of the NBA Finals  between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, which played the same day.” And when Woods missed that year’s PGA Championship due to his injuries? Ratings plummeted 55%.

As long as Tiger Woods continues to play the course as only he can, the idea that any sponsor would want to part ways with the golfer is incredulous.  Fans and advertisers will continue to watch in awe, as he dominates the game of golf.

Richest Athletes not the Most Liked

18 10 2009

The wealthiest sports figures aren’t always the most liked, proves the most recent data from E-Poll Market Research.

Topping the 10 Most Liked Sports Figures of 2009 is gymnastics Olympian Shawn Johnson, who earned a 75% liking rating in the poll conducted by the Encino, California-based research firm.

Shawn Johnson named most liked sports figure (

Shawn Johnson named most liked sports figure (

Though Johnson has a number of endorsement deals with companies such as Cover Girl, McDonald’s and Adidas, her total income doesn’t compare to that of fellow sports stars.

In fact, most of the active athletes, coaches, and commentators on the most-liked list are not necessarily the most “popular” when it comes to winning endorsements and lucrative deals.

But this may be what makes them so likable.

“She didn’t overexpose herself after the Olympics,” said E-Poll Chief Executive Gerry Philpott in Tom Van Riper’s article, citing why Johnson was able to top the list.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and David Beckham – all of whom were on the Forbes World’s Highest Paid Athletes of 2009 List – were noticeably absent from the most-liked list.

And understandably so.  It gets a little difficult to like someone when their face is plastered on every magazine cover, every sports shoe, and every television commercial you come across.

The only athlete to make both lists was golf pro Tiger Woods who was the highest paid athlete of 2009, and recently became the first athlete to make $1 billion.  He was the eighth most liked sports figure.

“No doubt the exposure keeps his likability rating from reaching even higher,” said

The most-likable sports figure survey by E-Poll Market Research was conducted using a representative sample 1,100 people age 13 and over.  The candidates were limited to active athletes, coaches, or commentators who had at least a 10% likability rating.  The full list is below.

1.  Shawn Johnson – Gymnastics 1.  Tiger Woods –  $110 million
2.  Larry Fitzgerald – Football 2.  Kobe Bryant – $45 million
3.  Kurt Warner – Football 2.  Michael Jordan – $45 million
4.  Rafael Nadal – Tennis 2.  Kimi Raikkonen – $45 million
5.  Steve Young – Football/Media 5.  David Beckham – $42 million
6.  Robin Roberts – Basketball/Media 6.  LeBron James – $40 million
7.  Chris Paul – Basketball 6.  Phil Mickelson –  $40 million
8.  Tiger Woods – Golf 6.  Manny Pacquiao –  $40 million
9.  Ty Murray – Bull Riding 9.  Valentino Rossi – $35 million
10.  Tim Duncan – Basketball 10.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. – $33 mill. Most-Liked Highest Paid