PBS: Nightly Business Report with Susie Gharib

Is Tiger Woods still marketable as a brand?

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One on One with Dean Crutchfield, Senior Partner at Method

SUSIE GHARIB: Tiger Woods in the spotlight today giving that long-awaited public apology to fans, family and sponsors. He acknowledged the damage he did to his multi-million dollar sports brand and his business partners. The golf champion earned more than $60 million in corporate sponsorships last year. But the one thing Woods didn’t say today, when he’ll return to competitive golf.

TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year. When I do return I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.

GHARIB: So when Woods does return to the game, will the Tiger brand still be marketable? Joining us now, Dean Crutchfield, senior partner at Method. It’s a New York agency that specializes in building corporate brands. Dean, welcome to NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.

DEAN CRUTCHFIELD, SR. PARTNER, METHOD: Great to be here, Susie.

GHARIB: So here’s the big question, is Tiger Woods still marketable as a brand?

CRUTCHFIELD: Absolutely. The court of public opinion has been out for the last three months, but after the performance today, I believe they’re going to return with a positive verdict. He’s going to be back in business and he’s still a big brand and many big brands are going to want to be associated with that.

GHARIB: Really, big brands will want to be associated, even in spite of the fact he has this bad boy behavior?

CRUTCHFIELD: Yes, I think — the wonderful thing about America, anyway, is that there’s a great way of looking forward, not back and I think what was put out today by Tiger was humanity. There was sincerity and there was honesty and I think that’s what we needed. So it was well placed. I believe that there are certain brands, appropriate brands that will be looking for the opportunity. They might even get a discounted rate. Let’s not forget we have the best player in the game and everyone wants him back on the course.

GHARIB: What would be some brands would be interested in taking on Tiger as a sponsor?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well if you look at the some of the leisure and entertainment brands, car brands, mobile brands, technology brands. There’s a whole bunch of businesses that could be very interested in this. I think what we have to look at is what’s relevant and what’s not. And most importantly, what’s the audience? So clearly, certain brands are not going to be interested. It’s not going to be Johnson’s baby powder, but I think there are many other brands that would like to seize upon the opportunity.

GHARIB: Let’s go back to some of these sponsors that we currently have and ones he’s lost. AT&T and Accenture dropped the Tiger brand. Nike stood by him. Who really made the right call here?

CRUTCHFIELD: Nike. I think the harshness of the other brands in just dropping him immediately actually didn’t really reflect well upon them. Clearly, you wouldn’t actually have Tiger as your main voice to the market as he was for Accenture. But just to drop him like a piece of trash I think was undeserving of somebody like that and it didn’t give him the chance to actually come around and tell his story. So I think that really, the brands like Nike have done a good job. They stuck their course. It’s about sport. He’s a sports man and basically they stuck by him and I think that will do them a lot of favor.

GHARIB: What about from the point of view of shareholders of these companies? When you do the economic, do the math on all of this of these multimillion-dollar celebrity sponsorships, what is the value to those shareholders? What’s the return on their investment?

CRUTCHFIELD: The value is huge. You know, brand activity and marketing is massive value to companies. If you look at global corporate sponsorship, they’ve got about $50 billion, 17 of which is in the U.S. What’s important about that, it might be only a few points of the total marketing spent of major brands, but it’s the mentions that they get in terms of web and radio and TV. These impressions are worth billions of dollars. So it has a hugely influential role in building a brand.

GHARIB: So how would you measure? Is there any way to financially quantify, if you’re getting your money’s worth?

CRUTCHFIELD: Well, it’s a difficult thing in this business to actually come out with any formula that does it. What we do know is that the top 100 brands in the world are together worth over $2 trillion. That’s brand value. That’s an enormous sum of money, an enormous amount of value and that’s a big role the brands play, including the sponsorships that they make with major personalities. In fact if you look at global sponsorship, most of it is actually in sports.

GHARIB: OK, real quickly, how many years or months is it going to take for new marketers to approach Tiger Woods?

CRUTCHFIELD: I’m sure they’re already approaching him now. It’s a question of what he’s putting out there, the fact that he’s actually left this big cliffhanger whether he’s coming back to the game will surely unveil itself over the next few weeks. I think the assumption is that he will be in the game and there are going to be sponsors interested in doing business with him.

GHARIB: Very interesting. Dean, thank you so much for coming on the program.

CRUTCHFIELD: My pleasure.

GHARIB: My guest tonight Dean Crutchfield of Method.

Author: Dean Crutchfield

In an award-winning career spanning two decades, Dean Crutchfield has created, built and re-invigorated some of the world's most iconic brands.

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