Along with his many fans, Bridgestone and TaylorMade can’t be happy about Tiger Woods’ most recent back surgery. But they may not be as upset as you’d think at first blush.
While we aren’t likely to see Tiger Woods teeing up a Bridgestone B330-S ball or swinging a TaylorMade M1 driver this year, his attachment to the brands is still massively valuable for the two companies.
He remains, after all, Tiger Woods, albeit a paler shade. Bridgestone and TaylorMade announced Woods would add their wares to his arsenal early in 2017. Of course, the terms of the multi-year deals are unknown, but we can assume Woods was expected to make 15 to 20 starts this year.
Obviously, that’s not happening. Interestingly, Pat Perez was skewered for suggesting Tiger Woods couldn’t legitimately compete and was merely making appearances for the benefit of his sponsors at the Abu Dhabi Championship.
“Tiger Woods was a golfer until his car hit that fire hydrant,” said an anonymous industry insider. “He was a golfer again in 2012 and 2013 when he won some tournaments, but in the last two or three years since then, I think Tiger Woods has become a brand again.”
Of course, there are hurdles to clear in the world of public perception.
“To most fans, Tiger is still a Nike guy. It makes no difference that Nike stopped making golf clubs and balls last year and focused on clothing and shoes. Other companies must overcome that perception and engrain new relationships between Woods and their brand in the mind of consumers.”
In other words, if Nike were they still in the equipment business, would have a lot less of a problem than TaylorMade or Bridgestone. A straw poll of casual golf fans who still think Woods plays a full Nike bag and the Nike ball would be interesting. However, you can bet there’s a significant percentage that are unaware of the new deals.
Regardless, you’d assume both companies are in it for the long hall with Woods.
“We now intend to use him more from a content and access standpoint,” a Bridgestone exec said. “I really don’t want to speak to how this may or may not be altered based on the amount of rounds (Woods plays) or the amount of competitive play. But for us, I’ll reiterate that it is not crucial that he is on the golf course.”
And this points to another area of impact: Woods is a known equipment enthusiast and perfectionist. Could you imagine the value to either of these companies of, say, a Tiger Woods co-designed golf club or ball? Such a situation would be a whole new area of added value, and a direct boost to sales figures.