Home > Uncategorized > What should Tiger do?

What should Tiger do?

There’s been so much media hype around Tiger and his activities this last two weeks that even Obama’s Nobel Prize ceremony barely made it to the news.

Cutting through all the noise there seems to be unanimous agreement that his brand value is tarnished and clients are running away. I have been following the articles to see what the world of marketing and advertising had to offer to rebuild the brand. And was rather surprised to hear nothing but ‘Get on to Oprah’.

That got me thinking..is that the only advice or suggestion we can provide to brand Tiger?

This is probably the kind of brand most agencies should be fighting over. A juicier crisis doesn’t exist. A star brand in free fall in a matter of 2 weeks.

So I decided to be bold and recommend a plan to see if it sparked some thoughts/discussions.

I have a 3 step plan to resurrect brand Tiger.

1. Cut ties

I think Tiger should separate from his wife. Why?

3 reasons :

a. Getting out takes a lot of the sting from these other women and their statements. The problems become less intense when he is the sole target of the claims. As a family unit, they all become victims and he is going to be spending a ton of time managing the family, each time something comes out. And if he needs to rebuild his brand, he needs to have time to able to focus.

b. There will be continuous scrutiny of his actions as long as he is married. He cannot look at a picture of Mother Teresa without the media and his wife analysing his actions, his motives and potential history.

a. Each day he stays on he reinforces a lie. The lie about his marriage. A one night stand can be explained away. Even a series of one night stands can be explained. But a series of ongoing liaisons suggests that the problem is far deeper and the marriage was probably formed under erroneous assumptions!

For these reasons I think he should go alone. This separates him from his family and he is the sole recipient of all the bad news.

2. Atonement

Any brand that errs needs to be seen as paying for its ways. Tiger needs to do the same.

Going on Oprah is one way. But it just adds more grist to the mill.

His doings, are fundamentally private in nature, and I think he should seek forgiveness ‘privately’ as well. Beyond the usual apologies to his family, fans etc, I think a brand of this nature needs a grand gesture.

I was thinking something like a trip to the Vatican and a meeting with the Pope..a private visit, that gets leaked out..but the intent of the visit is to seek forgiveness for having sinned. As I said earlier, it is a private matter..and a private confession is what is called for.

Of course his team, will leak a few key highlights of the trip. That’s what the machine is there for!  Whoever he meets, be it the Pope or Rev Jackson or whoever, the purpose of this step is to get ‘forgiveness’.

As part of this he should take on, say 100 hours of community service. Pick something highly visible so that it is apparent that he is paying for his ‘sins’.

After all if the Pope has forgiven him it is a bit difficult for the media, and the women, to continue to air his stories. Makes them all looks very small minded.

3. Rebuild

In this phase he needs to resurrect himself and his image.

This has a few aspects to be considered.

First is his sponsors. He should be talking to them and offering them things he can/will do to make up for the last few weeks. Maybe he offers Accenture a set of CEO golf clinics. Accenture can use this to get to senior managers of target companies.  Will strengthen their relationship with companies far more than the advertising campaign would do. Similarly talk to the other sponsors about things he can do with them directly for 2010. This makes him appear as concerned with sponsors and their funding more than just someone who gets paid every year for a few shots.

Secondly he should increase his visibility, in areas/spaces where he is ‘protected’ from potential hecklers. People need to get used to seeing him in the public so that when he does finally step on to the green for his first tournament he is a familiar face and not the first time the crowd sees him and lets him have a piece of their mind. I would recommend that he is at the Oscars (maybe even give away an award), be a guest judge at The American Idol, attend other sporting events. Gives him courage to be seen in the public eye again, with safety.

Lastly I think he should play a few high profile golf tournaments in places where they will not let their feelings about his private life be expressed verbally. What this does is allows him to concentrate on his game. And once he does that and starts winning a few tournaments, this whole sordid episode would be forgotten and the brand Tiger can start getting some lustre back.

Once that happens, and assuming his behaviour has been exemplary, he can even consider getting back together with his family.

I believe this journey is his alone to make, and staying with his family is going to put even more pressure on the relationship than that already exists!

So there you go..my 3 step Brand Tiger rebuilding plan.

1. Cut ties : Separate Tiger from the family.

2. Atone : Seek, and be seen seeking, forgiveness for sins from people who really count/matter.

3. Rebuild : Few select activities that retain/increase visibility and keep ties to the game

I see 2010 being spent in the rebuilding so that 2011 he ready to get those other 4 Majors and be remembered as the greatest golfer ever.

Perhaps this is a fool’s errand, but that’s my recommendation.

Any thoughts out there?

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  1. Asif Ansari
    December 15, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Hi Harish, good, well thought-through post. But I must respectfully disagree. I’ll try to make my points as succinctly as possible, and try to match them to your 3-step plan

    1. Cut ties: Not a good idea. He’s just demonstrated through his string of liaisons that he has a tough time keeping his hands to himself. Once he’s cut loose from his family, it’ll be a downward spiral for him. Look at what happened to Mike Tyson. On the other hand, look at Bill Clinton. Because the Clintons maintain some semblance of family life, they’re still respected. She almost became a President and he undoubtedly takes home large sums of cash every time he steps on stage as a speaker. America, more than any other nation places great emphasis on family life and structure. They’re quick to forgive and forget, and move on. Mr Woods best bet would be to stick to his Swede, go on holiday, get some great PR shots….you know…feeding the ducks, walking hand in hand on the beach…and all will soon be forgiven…hopefully.

    2. Atone. Very good idea. But it may be taking it to the extreme to go to the Pope and ask for forgiveness…never mind the embarassment of it all. Don’t know if the current Pope speaks English, and it would get awkward to have an interpreter in tow. But Oprah is a fantastic idea, if he can swing it. Moist eyes and a few choked words on prime time with the big O will all but guarantee he emerges as a hero who transgressed, repented and is now ready to be back on his feet.

    3. Rebuild. Excellent suggestions here. I dunno if lending his name to a charity of sorts would help. AIDS might be cutting it a bit too close to the bone…:-)

    So there…my two öres bit. Would love to see how this one pans out. Accenture has already severed ties with him. Nike says they’ll stick with him…No word from Gillette (the best a man can get…pun intended) yet. If and when he rebounds it’ll be fun to see if Accenture decided to flock to him.

  2. Anand
    December 15, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Nice post Harish. IF and only IF Tiger decides to mend his ways can he stay with his family as the media scrutiny might be too harsh for his family to endure.
    You are well on your way to become a spin doctor. 🙂

  3. Vasantha
    December 21, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Harish: I think you are missing one key view in this solution – the mindset of Tiger’s TA !!

    The solution needs to be tailored around what the TA will accept and they are unlikely to:

    1) Accept a clean cut from his marital vows
    2) Allow him to walk away from his social-cultural responsibilities.

    The real underlying problem is the can be likened to the lesser star appeal of Kamaal Hassan or rather the heightened star appeal of Rajnikant (southern movies). Rajnikant’s heightened star brand value stems from their appeal to the social and cultural leadership that he demonstrates i.e. faithful family man working hard to achieve starry goals. On the other hand, Kamal Hassan is the bad boy who has some good talent !!

    • HARISH VASUDEVAN
      January 8, 2010 at 4:03 am

      Vasantha
      This is about the way the information is delivered. He is not walking away or making a clean cut. He is sacrificing and taking responsibility for his errors. “I am sorry for what I did and I think I should protect my family from this drama. And the best way to do this is to stand alone and atone. They should not have to bear this on a daily basis” etc etc
      The important thing is that Tiger’s TA are golf watchers and they don’t care about his life outside the course, save from voyeuristic leanings. He got to to the top because he played outstanding golf, not that he had a model wife. The latter just made added sheen.
      Kamlhassan Rajni analogies are slightly different as in I don’t think the appeal is linked to their values. It is linked to their roles. Rajni always was the man who took on the system. The underdog, And that is very powerful in India. In every language those people have become superstars. From AB to Chiranjeevi to Rajni ro Mohanlal to…
      Kamal positions himself to be the intelligent actor. That always has lesser star appeal.
      IMHO

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