Will the real Tiger Woods please stand up

From one nude front cover controversy to another, this time it’s Tiger Woods getting his kit off.  

Tiger WoodsIt’s a shoot that makes Woods look more like a prison inmate than the clean cut pro-athlete the world had come to know and love before learning of his numerous extramarital affairs.

The picture, taken in 2006 by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, is the February cover of Vanity Fair, featuring never before seen photos of the golfer with an article that describes him as a “sex addict”.

It will be interesting to see how this latest media flurry will affect the already deeply tarnished Tiger Woods brand.

He has so far lost the commercial support of Accenture and telco firm AT & T; while PepsiCo’s Gatorade, Procter & Gamble’s  Gillette brand and Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer are dramatically rolling back their marketing activities with him.

Nike is one brand which has maintained its support for Woods. And EA Sports has announced that it plans to release a new video game entitled Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. It’s been reported that EA Sports has already bagged an estimated $670m from Woods-related games in the US, and it seems convinced that his fall from grace will not affect sales of the new game.

For me it’s all about context. Some brands choose personalities that help give them that edge. Think the rise, fall and then rise again of Kate Moss. And who would have imagined Iggy Pop fronting an ad for car insurance brand Swiftcover – although that’s just a little sad and wrong on every level.

Perhaps Woods’ management now needs to look to brands that are more reflective of the man we see before us on the Vanity Fair cover. How this will all pan out will only become clearer once he’s back in the game and if he continues to bag the trophies.

But will this latest Vanity Fair outing knock the Woods brand even further? If anything, I would argue that it will simply reaffirm his new brand positioning for when he’s finally ready to re-enter the game. And for Vanity Fair, copies of the magazine are undoubtedly already flying out the door.

Camille Alarcon


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