Boycott Watch  
December 21, 2009
Advertisers That Dropped Tiger Woods Will Lose In The Long Run
Summary: Advertisers Should Not Drop Tiger Woods - Fans Didn't.
    Where is the boycott which triggered advertisers to pull their ads featuring Tiger Woods? The answer is, there is none. Advertisers dropped Tiger Woods ads because of a fear of a backlash for his marital infidelity, fearing and expecting an uproar by consumers over his celebrity status as there has been with other celebrities. If those advertisers would have checked with Boycott Watch, they would have known that sports fan boycotts do not work because true sports fans do not boycott their favorite sports or teams. In fact, we reported just that on June 2007 with our article titled "Sports Fan Boycotts Do Not Work"

    In the Tiger Woods case, no boycott was called and there is a reason for that - sports fans, especially golf fans, are just that - fanatics. In the case of golfers, they are interested in the best score they can get no matter what. Even North Korean leader Kim Jong Ill lied about gold when in June, 2004 he claimed to have scored 38 under par in his very first outing.

    While the name of the sponsor may influence a purchase, golfers are not going to be swayed away from products, and especially the game itself, just because one player shattered their dreams. Also, kids tend to grow up aspiring to be great baseball or basketball players, not great golfers so there is no inherent parental backlash to protect their kids.

    As for infidelity, Americans forgive. That's what we do. The problems Tiger Woods face are his own and of his own making. Advertisers hired Tiger Woods as their spokesman for both his rags to riches story and his squeaky clean persona, then dropped him in fear of a backlash against their companies but the advertisers failed to notice one vital factor - there are no declared boycotts of Tiger Woods so they reacted to nothing.

    The advertisers reacted as if there was a boycott as we saw with non-sports celebrities. Americans boycotted yet eventually forgave David Letterman for his sexual innuendo comments about Governor Palin's fourteen year-old daughter, forgave Don Imus for his racist comments about the Rutgers Women's Basketball players, and even more or less forgave Mel Gibson for his drunken Antisemitic rant to a police officer. We don't forget, but we do forgive.

    So why then are advertisers starting to officially dump Tiger Woods? From a consumer standpoint, it's an overreaction. Like Boycott Watch President Fred Taub states, "you can't boycott something you don't buy anyhow" and in this case non-golfers are cannot boycott golf products. In a similar case, the NFL made a mistake when it dumped Rush Limbaugh as an analyst because of boycott threats by people who don't watch football anyhow. While Mr. Limbaugh would attract his radio audience to Monday Night Football, avid football fans are not going to stop watching the game because of any one commentator.

    Friday, the Associated Press released a story that Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer "will not use Tiger Woods' image in advertising campaigns in the United States for the foreseeable future." That is not to say the company will drop Mr. Woods altogether, nor does it mean the company will drop him in European ads. These moves though tend to come before, and sometimes trigger other companies dropping endorsement deals altogether, and that would also be a mistake.

    Big name celebrity endorsements bring in sales, and in many cases it moves sales off the charts. Dropping the Tiger Woods endorsements may hurt the long-term profitability of a company in this case because of a lack of a big name to attract consumers to a big ticket luxury item. Glenn Beck and David Letterman found plenty of new advertisers to make up for the ones who dropped them. In the case of Tiger Woods, golf fans are going to keep watching the sport, including Tiger Woods when he returns, and buying the products he endorses as long as he continues to play well. Golfers are crazy about taking every advantage and opportunity to play better, so if Tiger Woods says something is good, it's good.

    In the short run Mr. Woods is not getting any tournament win money and he is loosing lots of sponsorship dollars. The real question Boycott Watch has is will Mr. Woods ever recover mentally and regain his golfing crown. In long run however, Tiger Woods will be back and businesses which stop sponsoring him will be the real losers.

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