The Tiger brand is well and truly tanked

Not one to kick a man when he’s down but some of the numbers that surround Tiger Woods’ sponsorship deals are starting to reach the public domain. So lets look at a few of them and see which ones have a chance of surviving.

1. Gatorade

The Pepsi owned gatorade brand is one of the biggest at with a multi year $100m deal. Gatorade is a drink that aims to promote sports, concentration and clean success. The drink they have created is Gatorade Tiger, which you can see here.

Gatorade Tiger - Put a Tiger in your tank next time you need to perform!

I would imagine, if it’s selling they’ll keep it in their line up anyway and one thing he isn’t short of is coverage at the moment, despite his being in total hiding for over two weeks now.

They announced on Wednesday last that they would be withdrawing it, but that this was nothing to do with his personal problems. It’s a bit of a coincidence though isn’t it.

The long term damage for Gatorade’s brand is to be established but with Pepsi, they will distance themselves very fact if they need to.

2. Accenture

These are the people that just escaped from the corporate clutches of Arthur Andersen that was brought down by the Enron scandal. They have it in their interest to both act and appear to be as clean as clean in a brand sense. Any sniff of a scandal will see them running for the hills.

They have just removed the Woods image that has been on rotation on their front page of their website. Oops.

3. Gillette

Thierry Henry is allowed to cheat and put France through to the World cup finals and deprive Ireland from their chance to progress and yet he still seems to be acceptable to the brand.

But infidelity runs deeper and hits harder. We become a prudy bunch in the uK and the US even more so, so Gillette may well drop him altogether.

Or will they?

When Thierry had his affair with celebrity make-up artist, Sadie Hewlett, they didn’t drop him then, so maybe Tiger will survive.

Gillette's Roger,  Thierry and Tiger - a really wholesome bunch of gents
Gillette's Roger, Thierry and Tiger - a really wholesome bunch of gents

I guess all eyes are on Roger Federer now to keep his end up (so to speak) and to see if they can make it a full house of cheats. Gillette hve aid they will be cutting back the role that Tiger plays in their promotional material.

4. Nike

Nike is obviously one of the names he’s most closely associated with and he appears to still be at least listed on their site.

It’s hard to say how high profile he was on this site before, but he’s now only listed under their athletes and even then he is last on the list. There are no other pictures of him on the front pages of the site at all.

That sounds expensive.

5. EA Sports

Tiger Woods golf for the Wii, is one of the only computer games I have ever played and I loved it. Its worth over $60m as a brand and I don’t believe this will take one tiny hint of damage. Maybe they’ll push him on the deal next time they renegotiate, but who else have they got in the game that is anywhere near as high profile?

6. Summary

There’s obviously others like Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer and AT&T who all help with his $100m a year sponsorship income, but for me, after this does down a little, most if not all will stick by him as a brand spokesperson if he continues to be good for their business.

He needs to realign his own brand a little. He can’t really claim the moral high ground anymore and he will struggle massively with some mainstream family brands, but if he adjusts his position to be a little more ‘laddy’ and works the media a little, he can possibly recover his status.

David Beckham did it by concentrating on being good at what he does and by being photographed everywhere with his kids, looking like he’s having fun.

Hot off the press

It’s just been announced that Accenture will be withdrawing from the deal with Tiger, stating that he is no longer the right representative for their brand. It looks like they are being as sensitive about any potential bad press as I thought they maybe. There will now be others following. Expect Gatorade to go more public pretty soon.

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The world’s best branding – a thought piece with video evidence

What does ‘best’ mean in a branding context? And is ‘best’ a defensible position or one you should even think about using as a claim?

Is it plausible, does it differentiate and is is it sustainable?

These would be three questions we would ask when we were looking at any strapline to work with, or support a brand and for us, in most cases. Best is just not good enough.

Case 1 – Seattle’s Best Coffee

As already discussed here, I think this is impossible to prove and almost completely implausible when they are faced with the might of Starbucks on their doorstep. I can see why they are making that claim, but don’t really believe they are Seattle’s best. You would hope however that if they are making such a ludicrously bold claim then it should at least be better than average and prepared with some care, skill and dexterity.

Seattle's best coffee and now in Japan?
Seattle's best coffee and now in Japan?

Case 2 Gillette – The best a man can get?

When Gillette came to the UK, they briefed their agency BDO to look at, and work with, this strapline. BDO rightly pointed out that this was unprovable and as such, couldn’t be used in UK advertising. Gillette challenged this in court and the decision was that they were not claiming they were better than anyone else so therefore, anyone else could also be best too.

It was in effect, top parity. By being at the top themselves, they didn’t have exclusive ownership of that top slot and could share it with others. They have used it ever since in ads that I find continually irritating and tired. I also make a point of not using their products.

This ad from 1989 shows their thinking when they came to the UK with the first use of this strapline. For me, it shows how far we have moved in terms of advertising techniques and what worked then. It is awful, patronising and again, completely implausible. When did you last see an ad this cheesy?

Their brand tags show how effective its been for them however as you can see here

Case 3 – Elf (2003)

When Buddy (Will Ferrell) is wandering around New York, he sees a sign outside a crappy coffee shop and runs in to congratulate them. Later on in the film he takes his new girlfriend Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) for a treat at the home of the world’s best coffee. She is slightly unimpressed – again because it is so implausible.

Case 4 – BB Muffins Nottingham

I saw this today and laughed. If claiming to offer the best coffee in Seattle is a big claim, this one is plain stupid.

BB Muffins the home of the world's best coffee - and by law, their coffee is only actually as good as anyone elses!
BB Muffins the home of the world's best coffee - and by law, their coffee is only actually as good as anyone elses!

It’s a bun shop that sells coffee on the side. For them to make a claim as the ‘world’s best’ is 100% ludicrous. I’ve never eaten or drank there, so I can’t vouch for their work, but it’s about as plausible a ‘world’s best’ as the one in Elf.

Case 5. Tina Turner – Simply the best

Hmm, not for me, but as we were talking about this in the office, they dared me to add this to the list, so I did. Enjoy it as it’s from her live tour in 1990 and she’s put on some years since then. Does the word ‘simply’ at the start help with her differentiation?

Summary.

Anyone can claim they offer the ‘world’s best’ as it isn’t a point of difference, it’s just a point of top parity.

To make this claim and deliver a product that is less than world class, will (hopefully) kill your brand forever.

Any brand has to have a clear and demonstrable point of difference, or people will not understand what they are about and what they should feel by having a ‘brand’ relationship with them.

‘Best’ isn’t good enough and ‘better’ normally isn’t provable, so where does that leave all these?

Who else can we add to the list of fame/shame as making brilliant/ridiculous claims to be the best?

Show me the videos or stills and I’ll happily link them off here. Have fun.

Thanks for the Seattle’s best shot to Cloganese. You can see more of his fine work here