Wednesday, December 9, 2009



By LARRY DORMAN, December 8, 2009

Even as Tiger Woods remained hidden from public view on Tuesday in his home, or somewhere else, he has also begun to fade from view in his role as ubiquitous corporate pitchman for an array of products.

When last seen in public, Woods was lying on the pavement in front of his home near Orlando on Nov. 27, moments after driving over a fire hydrant and crashing his Cadillac Escalade into a neighbor’s tree. The last time his corporate persona appeared on television was two nights later when, according to Nielsen, he was in a 30-second spot for the Gillette Company.

Since then, Woods has had plenty of television face time, but not the type that he or any of his sponsors could have enjoyed. Amid a growing number of reports of alleged extramarital affairs, Gatorade announced on Tuesday that it was discontinuing its Tiger Woods Sports Drink. Although the company said in a statement that its decision was made months ago and was unrelated to recent events, the timing of the announcement served to compound public perceptions of an erosion of sponsor support for the embattled Woods.

His commercials were nowhere to be seen during the Saturday or Sunday NBC broadcasts of the Chevron World Challenge, the tournament he has hosted since 2001.

The networks said that no ads featuring Woods were pulled by marketers after a week filled with reports of extramarital affairs linked to Woods. But no ads featuring Woods ran — even during the Chevron tournament, which benefited his foundation.

“There’s still an opportunity for Tiger to stop the bleeding,” said Mike Paul, the president and senior counselor at MGP & Associates public relations in New York. “But he cannot just remain silent, out of sight. He should have done a one-on-one interview within the first 24 to 48 hours. He should have done something like Oprah, and he needs to do it — that type of interview — and soon.”

With neither acknowledgment nor denial from the Woods camp, the void has been filled with ridicule, a toxic element that crisis managers fear more than most.

The networks have been awash in it. Jokes about Woods. Skits about Woods. A Taiwanese television computer-enhanced video that gave its version of the car crash became a viral sensation, with more than two million views in a matter of days last week. All have created a previously unthinkable image of Woods, whose image of control was overarching.

Sunday’s N.F.L. game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans featured a bizarre halftime bit in which a man in a tiger suit dressed in Woods’s trademark Sunday outfit of red shirt and black cap was chased around the field by a blond woman wielding a golf club.

Woods was the butt of jokes on a Saturday Night Live skit, and late night hosts have made him a staple in their routines. Monday night started with Jay Leno’s joking that it was nice of Oprah Winfrey to offer her couch to Woods as a confessional but that the invitation should have come from Jerry Springer.

David Letterman, in the midst of his own affair-driven repair job, made Woods the focus of the Top 10 List (How Tiger Can Improve His Image).

Jimmy Fallon did an impression of a whispering golf announcer keeping track of Woods’s progress and Craig Ferguson took his swings on the “Late, Late Show.”

In a devastating line that would not have been imaginable two weeks ago, George Lopez linked Woods with O. J. Simpson by joking that the only way Woods can improve his standing in the black community would be to get in a slow-speed chase involving a white Bronco.

The maelstrom of publicity has even ensnared publications like Golf Digest. Its January cover features Woods, standing behind President Obama, who is lining up a putt. The headline reads, “10 Tips Obama Can Take From Tiger.”

Every joke and every ridiculous comparison serves to strip away the veneer of control and leave Woods exposed. Paul said he believed that if Woods was to salvage a marketable image, he must do a complete about face. Paul contends that the carefully-crafted on-course image and off-course marketing image built on the indomitable, invincible dominator must go.

“The whole point is that he needs to do the opposite of what he’s been doing,” Paul said. “The opposite of privacy is you have to be transparent. The opposite of clamming up your heart and not showing your emotions is to have a repentant heart and allow us to see you vulnerable.

“Ideally, he should have his wife with him when he does the interview. And if she can’t be there he should still do it. And he should say: ‘We’re going through a very difficult time right now. My wife does not want to get a divorce. She isn’t comfortable standing alongside me right now. She’s very upset and rightly so. I breached our marriage in a very significant way and I had dozens of relationships with women.’ ”

Unless Woods gets in front of the public, and soon, Paul contends he will continue to be diminished in their sight and, perhaps more important, in the eyes of the sponsors who pay him more than $100 million a year.

Lynn Zinser and Jack Healy contributed reporting.
By Hollie McKay
FOX News.

Things could go from bad to worse for the golf-great
It looks as though things are going from bad to worse for Tiger Woods.

A rep from online adult magazine Playgirl (which features men baring it all) confirmed to that they did indeed receive an offer to purchase naked male photos, purported to be of the controversial sports star.

“We were approached by a third party who wanted to know our ‘interest level’. Our lawyers are currently going over them, the source, the entire package,” Playgirl rep Daniel Nardicio said, adding that they would only purchase the alleged pics if they can successfully confirm them to be Woods.

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that Gatorade was the first major sponsor to sever ties with the golfer, who Forbes Magazine last year estimated earned over a billion dollars, with the majority of his income stemming from sponsorships and endorsements.

Earlier this week, the 33-year-old posted a message on his official Web site to thank both fans and sponsors involved in his Chevron World Challenge Tournament, which he originally intended to host before sustaining injuries in a minor car accident Thanksgiving weekend.

“I’d also like to thank all of our supporting sponsors and my tireless, dedicated staff, board and volunteers who collectively produce this first-class golf tournament,” Woods wrote. “I am so grateful to them for their efforts, and I am sincerely sorry I was unable to fulfill my duties as host and player in this important event.”