Friday, November 27, 2009

Dr. Boyce Watkins Talks with ABC News about Tiger Woods

Word that Tiger Woods was involved in an early morning car accident likely rattled not just fans, but also the broad swath of major corporations that rely on Woods' star power to sell everything from sports drinks, T-shirts and razors to golf tournament tickets.

Reports say the golf star hit a fire hydrant and a tree near his home.

"I can imagine that the world stopped for Tiger Woods advertisers when they first heard the news and that, literally, their hearts missed a beat," said ABC News sports consultant and USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan.

Woods has earned more than $100 million annually and, according to Forbes, more than $1 billion during his career thus far, thanks, in part, through endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Gatorade, Electronic Arts, TAG Heuer and Gillette. The companies declined requests for comment from ABC News.

Nike, in particular, has been especially dependent on Woods, said advertising expert Larry Woodard, an ABC News columnist and the CEO of the advertising agency Vigilante.

"Nike wasn't really into golf before Tiger Woods came," he said. "He helped them take a pre-eminent role in golf."

The PGA Tour also has a lot riding on Woods -- he drives ratings for PGA Tour broadcasts like no one else before him, allowing the tour to rake in greater advertising revenues and higher TV ratings.

"Tiger brought a lot of color to the sport both on his skin and his style of play and that's something that the PGA sorely needs," said Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University.

In the short term, companies tied to Woods likely wouldn't lose too much cash if Woods couldn't fulfill his immediate endorsement obligations; corporations take out insurance policies to cover themselves in case of such events.

"I bet you any intelligent corporation that deals with Tiger Woods has conditions in place to protect them in the event that something like this were to happen," Watkins said. "You have to confront the fact that a human being is perishable commodity. It is a commodity that does not come without risk."


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