x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Tiger's sponsors 'over-reacting'

Revelations of affairs cost Woods, but head of a bank's global sponsorship feels controversy will lose significance in long term.

Tiger Woods is taking an indefinite break from golf, almost certainly ruling him out of next year's Dubai Desert Classic.
Tiger Woods is taking an indefinite break from golf, almost certainly ruling him out of next year's Dubai Desert Classic.

ABU DHABI // The head of global sponsorship at one of the world's biggest banks has suggested that the marketability of Tiger Woods in the long term will not be damaged by the scandal that has engulfed him. Woods, the world's top-ranked golfer, is taking an indefinite break from the sport - almost certainly ruling him out of next year's Dubai Desert Classic - after revelations of extra-marital affairs, and sponsors have distanced themselves from him.

Giles Morgan, of HSBC, however feels that the reaction has been over the top. "These decisions should not be made quickly, they should be made when the dust settles," Morgan said, speaking from the sidelines of the Arabian Sponsorship forum at the Emirates Palace hotel in the capital. "Tiger is just a golfer. In 20 years' time this will just be another chapter in the game of golf. "This is why we don't sponsor individuals. Two months ago I don't think anyone could have believed this would have happened.

"It is undoubtedly a big media story, connecting to those not usually interested in golf. If Tiger Woods comes back I can imagine the viewers for the first ball he hits will be considerable." Rumoured to be the first sportsman to earn US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn), the American golfer makes around $110 million a year, with $90m coming from sponsorship deals, after winning 14 major championships during a 13-year career.

Accenture's decision to cancel their six-year relationship with him yesterday followed two weeks of intense scrutiny about Woods's private life following a car accident outside his Florida mansion last month. "For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture's advertising," the consultation company said in a statement. "However, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising."

Gillette, the men's grooming brand, had already announced that they would pull their iconic advertising campaign featuring Woods, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer and French footballer Thierry Henry. "As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programmes," Gillette said. The Woods scandal is the third to hit the campaign this year, following Federer's outburst at the US Open and Henry's handball last month which helped France reached the World Cup at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.

Other sponsors have been less deterred, with sportswear brand Nike and Swiss watchermaker Tag Heuer both sticking by Woods. The American telecommunications company AT&T said they are evaluating their association. sports@thenational.ae