A few months ago when the Tiger Woods scandal first started to unfold, I wrote a piece about what the brands he was associated with would do, how they would react and which would desert him. You can read that here.
I was a bit inconclusive as to how the brands he hangs out with would react. But it appears they have decided to stick with him and embrace him for all his faults. This ad is an amazing one and must be unique where our fallen hero doesn’t get to speak, but rather stare slightly sheepishly into the camera whilst his late father asks him if he has learnt anything.
I watched the US Masters coverage last night on the BBC and I have to say that I was surprised to see that he seems to have been well and truly forgiven (or have they just forgotten?) by the US golf watching community. He was cheered by men, women and children as he played every shot and entered every green.
Maybe Nike have made a brilliant decision in sticking with him, but I guess the result on Sunday night will be the biggest single decider as to whether he is back for good. Me, I’m cheering on our boy Lee Westwood, with a firm support for the elegant Ian Poulter.
I’ve thought about this a lot since I first wrote it yesterday and watched more of the excellent BBC coverage again last night. I have to say, that I am slightly put out by Tiger Woods and his approach to his own brand. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that this is something of a desperate attempt to keep ‘in’ with his sponsors – but at any cost. I know how hard it was when I lost my own father, so for Tiger to literally sell his own father’s voice for the benefit of one of his sponsors is pretty low and shows the depths to which he will stoop to make money.
Augusta is a bubble. A micro climate where reality is suspended. A place where they’ll spend $80m on their practice area to create the perfect golf environment. Tiger has been the king of Augusta. Few of his peers can hold a candle to his performances on this course. His closing day is normally better than the field by a mile.
But yesterday was Seve’s 52nd birthday and he was my golf hero, before the brands took control of the players. He stands for individuality, fight, courage, respect and outrageous shot making. Tiger can claim the last, but the respect for even his father – who he claims was his hero and mentor – at the behest of his sponsors has gone – and I don’t see him ever getting it back.
Maybe the American public haven’t noticed this yet, but this is the beginning of the end for me. Not the affairs, the lies or even the car crash. Once you lose respect for yourself, your days as a brand icon are numbered.