Last month I talked about how quickly Tiger Woods destroyed his brand image with his actions. In that post I stated:
In today's world of instant news, gossip dominates coverage (which I despise) and videos go "viral" - events can change the way we look at something in an instant. Communication has changed so much with Twitter, Facebook, e-mails, blogs, etc. that you cannot control the message. It is impossible to control the message - you can have some influence as to the direction of the message, but you cannot control it. Tiger didn't understand that and he still doesn't. He has only given a couple of statements on his website, no interviews, no communication at all.
That was on December 14th - before sponsors had begun to drop him. At that point in time, Tiger had taken a huge hit in his brand - but it was still strong enough to garner the attention of companies who wanted to sell their products. Sadly, Tiger didn't realize that his lack of communication to talk about what happened was causing him harm.
Brett Duncan over at Marketing In Progress made an interesting comment on that post that I wanted to talk about here. He states:
It's really quite amazing what we've been witnessing with Tiger. Especially even since you originally posted this, he's lost quite a few sponsorships. Turns sponsorship into a great way to explain branding: if companies want to sponsor you, then you're doing something right with your brand. As to the communication side of things, I'm curious as to how you think Tiger could have handled this better?
It's really quite amazing what we've been witnessing with Tiger. Especially even since you originally posted this, he's lost quite a few sponsorships. Turns sponsorship into a great way to explain branding: if companies want to sponsor you, then you're doing something right with your brand.
As to the communication side of things, I'm curious as to how you think Tiger could have handled this better?
Brett makes a great point when talking about branding and sponsorship. If your brand is good, people want to ride that brand to help sell their products and want to sponsor you. Hence, if your brand is not good, they don't want to be associated with you. This is what Tiger has to realize - that his brand has taken such a hit that companies that have spend millions supporting him are now bailing on him. Companies add and drop people all the time, but they usually do it because of their skills declining and a newer, better version is coming up. This isn't the case with Tiger Woods - he is still the most dominant golfer in the world - they are dropping him because his brand is now THAT tainted.
To look at Brett's question on what Tiger could have done better, this answer is simple: Communicate! Tiger Woods loves his privacy and he felt that he could keep quiet about it and people would leave him alone like they always have. Unfortunately for Tiger, the news media smelled blood in the water and were like sharks. The media is like this - they like a sensational story - either sex or violence - and if its both, hallelujah - and this one had sex with some hints of violence (directed towards Tiger - with a golf club no less).
Had Tiger come out right away and addressed what happened the media might have been easier on him. However, because he has been so quiet, bloggers, pundits and anyone with an opinion has filled the gap. While he wouldn't have been able to cover things up - at least he would have been able to facilitate something to help himself and his brand.
Is it too late for Tiger? I'm not sure. I am sure he will come back and be a great golfer and will continue to be the world's number 1 player for years to come. However, unless he comes out soon and starts communicating with people - either giving interviews or having a press conference - anything - he will continue to fall in the public's eye and will continue to destroy one of the most valuable brands in the world.