Leading brand strategy consultant,
Simon Middleton believes that brand
Tiger Woods will recover following his recent indiscretions.
’Frankly, I don’t think it will take more than a year or so,“ says Middleton. ’He has, you might say, put a lot of brand in the bank, which is what brands need when they hit a crisis.’
The scandal has caused a media frenzy and has already had an effect on the billionaire golf champ’s sponsorship deals. Since the news broke of his extra-marital affairs, Gatorade’s ’Tiger Focus’ drink has been discontinued, Accenture have pulled the plug on a £12 million advertising deal, and Gillette haven’t featured Woods in a single advert.
’America is the kind of country where a moral response is expected from companies, so he is bound to have sponsors dropping him,’ says Middleton. ’I think the smart ones will try to look long term rather than short and to be careful not to try to look holier than though by disassociating themselves. Actually I think it reflects poorly on Gillette if they have indeed dropped him. He didn’t kill anyone after all. We admire him because he’s a great sportsman. Now Gillette appears to be judging him by different standards. I think they would have been much better advised to play it very cool and not to over-react.’
Despite Woods’ personal failings, Middleton said that ’brand Tiger is far from finished.’
Middleton commented that it might even be a good thing for Woods in the long-run.
’Whilst I’m not condoning or making any value judgment about his actions, he is now clearly a more rounded and more ’human’ personality. If his brand had a weakness before, it was the weakness of perfection. He was perhaps a bit too good to be true. Now we know he’s just a bloke with flaws. That’s sort of reassuring.’
That high profile celeb brands can bounce back from scandals like this has been proven by David Beckham. His reputation was tainted after an alleged affair, but seems to have things back on track. Middleton believes that Tiger Woods can follow suit.
Middleton, who recently analysed brand Beckham, says, “the high profile celeb brand endorsement game is a dangerous one. Not so much a pact with the devil, more a pact with flawed human beings.“
“The companies want the glamour by association with the celeb hero but they also demand a kind of inhuman perfection. They therefore always run the risk of their chosen people turning out to be human after all,“ says Middleton.
“The celebs want the money that the sponsorship deals bring, and they doubtless know exactly what’s expected of them when they take the cash, but of course they then ask for ’privacy’ and to be treated as ’people’. So my sympathy for the celebs doesn’t stretch very far. Both parties think they can have everything their way. I think the reality of commerce and life is that they can’t.“
Simon Middleton is brand startegy guru who has consulted to British Airways, Aviva (formerly Norwich Union), McCann Erickson etc. His programme The Brand Effect for Sky, has just been recommissioned. He appears in The Great British Holiday Show with Duncan Bannatyne OBE on Virgin 1 in Summer 2010. Please see Simon’s website: www.brandstrategyguru.com