Good riddance: Tiger Woods wasn't a Buick guy anyway
In a surprise announcement, we now learn that Buick, after nine years, will not be renewing its contract with Tiger Woods. Perhaps GM had a choice: lose the Tiger endorsement or lose the private jets. Pretty easy decision if that’s the case because I can’t believe the folks at GM were getting much of an return on investment with the Tiger deal anyway, and well, you know how hard it is to travel first-class on a commercial airliner. You don’t know about that one, you say? Yeah, I can’t relate either.
Anyway, back to the Buick-Tiger deal: First off, this had to be one of the most mismatched associations of all time. Does Tiger really seem like a Buick guy? Let’s see, athletic, young, most recognized athlete on the planet ? seems more like Ferrari, Porsche or even Corvette to me. Yeah, I know that’s exactly why GM wanted the guy, but a Buick, although a fine automobile, is still a Buick.
A few years ago when Woods won the Ford-sponsored Doral tournament, part of the top prize was a $140,000 Ford GT. Woods reportedly had to give it to caddie Steve Williams because of his endorsement deal with Buick. Ouch, that had to hurt, even if you’re as rich at Tiger because Ford GTs aren’t just expensive, they’re rare and extremely nimble.
I used to play with a couple of young guys who were such huge Tiger fans that they wore red Nike Golf shirts, black pants, black shoes and a Nike hat (before Tiger went to the TW). Somehow they even developed similar swings to Tiger, and they had all his mannerisms down to a tee. From a distance, they really did look like Tiger, so we called them Tiger-Tiger when they were paired together. What they didn’t do was drive Buicks. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be caught dead near a Buick ? or an Olds or a Ford Crown Victoria, for that matter. Needless to say, the Nike Golf-Tiger contract made sense.
The deal Tiger signed with GM in 2004 was reportedly worth $40 million after he had already helped the automaker successfully launch the Buick Rendezvous with his first five-year deal. According to a company spokesman, sales of the Rendezvous outperformed projections, no doubt because of Tiger’s endorsement. Isn’t it possible that the country was just a little SUV/gas guzzler crazy back then and sales might have been good anyway?
Golf endorsements have always been sort of suspect if you think about it. Golf is still fairly elitist, so it really appeals to CEOs and chairmen of the board. Sometimes you can’t help but think marketing decisions are made simply so the big wigs can get cozy with the players on the world class courses they’d like to play. Plus, there’s always a charity write-off.
Of course there are some golf sponsorships that make total sense. I can’t think of a better market for Cialsis than fans of the PGA Tour and NASCAR. But that’s another story.
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