Tiger Woods requests privacy, twice to be exact, in his public ‘apology’ posted on his website on Friday. Do you get to do that when you’ve spent a good portion of your life vying for public attention? Having built one of the most, if not the most, visible brands in the world of sports – definitely the world of golf – Tiger Woods has broken his ‘brand promise’ to us and now wants ‘privacy’.
Did Tylenol request ‘privacy’ in 1982 when their household trusted pain reliever killed seven people in Chicago?
Did Magic ask for us to ‘look the other’ way in 1991 when he admitted to having the HIV virus?
History is very clear as to how each of those entities handled their breach of their brand promise to the world. What is Tiger going to do? At the end of the day, the issue isn’t whether or not he was ‘unfaithful’ – we are so used to infidelity it doesn’t really shock us any longer – much less surprise. What we aren’t ok with is being actively lied to, manipulated or made to feel foolish.
Tiger Woods and those in his employment have spent countless days and dollars to create an image. Back in 2003, Steinberg, Wood’s agent, told a Wharton audience that representing a star in an individual sport is much like managing a consumer brand. “Coca-Cola, Kodak, Nike – those are three of the largest international brands. Tiger Woods is on a par with them. You can’t walk down a street in Kuala Lumpur or New Zealand and say, ‘Tiger Woods,’ and not get a response.
If that’s so – you can’t have it both ways.
Earlier this year there was fear that Wood’s knee injury would negatively impact the recall factor for his brand empire: Nike, General Motors, American Express, Accenture et al. – laughable today in light of the parade of mistresses. There is brand fallout. Late night TV is notorious for wreaking havoc on the weak – exhibited public frailty no matter how insignificant is fodder for the one-liners. BrandWeek discloses that; “On average, about 6% of viewers recalling a brand mention in a late night show report a negative opinion. In the case of Tiger Woods’ sponsors, the negative shift was 11%.”
I am insulted that Tiger thinks it is ok to ask for privacy. He doesn’t get to – in my opinion. Those bright stripes and glossy coat are smeared with …., well this is a g-rated blog, the only way to regain any of that luster is to re-build his personal brand with integrity – not just for his wife and children – but for the millions he betrayed.