That's Time: Tiger's Sexcapades Not So Advertiser-Friendly

Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer pulls in-store promotions featuring Woods in wake of Tigergate; denies they're cutting ties with prize endorser

By Gina Serpe Dec 10, 2009 7:53 PMTags
Tiger Woods, Tag Heuer, AdTag Heuer

Tag, you're it. At least, when it comes to being the latest Tiger Woods sponsor to publicly back the golfer while working overtime to downplay any connection to the embattled athlete on a consumer level.

Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer has removed all in-store advertisements featuring, or even mentioning, Woods from its Australian branches, but has stopped short of making any permanent cuts with its most profitable endorser.

And like Gatorade before it, the company said that the removal of Woods posters from 100 of their stores was, despite its eyebrow-raising timing, merely a coincidence. Honest...

"We change our campaigns probably four or five times per year," Tag Heuer's general manager, Philip Richards, told the Sydney Morning Herald, adding that the "golf focus" of the Links watches, the line Woods promotes, had simply run its course.

He was also quick to add that the watches had continued to sell apace in the wake of Tigergate.

But while most of Tiger's sponsors have stuck by the embattled "trangressor" with carefully worded public statements of support, they have quietly—and quickly—pulled ads linking their brands with the image-hit golfer out of circulation.

In fact, the last time Woods appeared on our screens (outside of news reports) was on Nov. 29, two days after his foray into vehicular tree-hugging and before his baker's dozen of mistresses had come out of the splintered woodwork.

And just so you're ready when the inevitable question pops up in Trivial Pursuit's Disgraced Athletes edition, according to Nielsen, Woods' advertorial swan song was a 30-second prime-time spot in which he shilled for Gillette.

And while Woods, pre-Nov. 27, was ranked No. 6 on the Davie Brown Index, used by advertisers to determine the (positive) influence of stars on the public's shopping habits, he has since fallen to 24th. While it's a sharp drop, it's neither disastrous nor unrecoverable from.

But while so far only Gatorade has dropped a Tiger-branded drink from its production, and in doing so made quite a point that the decision had been made long before Tigergrate broke, the rest of Woods' sponsors—Accenture, Nike, PepsiCo (which owns Gatorade), Tag Heuer, Electronic Arts, Upper Deck Co., NetJets, TLC Vision and Procter & Gamble's Gillette—have vowed to stick by the star, all while furiously yanking his spots from circulation.

The thinking is that once the media storm begins to peter out, Woods will roar back on air.

If not sooner still. The Pac-10 college athletic conference has yet to determine whether it will continue to air a TV spot featuring Woods (a Stanford grad), which last ran during games on Nov. 28 and 29.

It's unclear how big a dent, if any, his lack of airtime will put in his wallet, though the billion-dollar baby takes home an estimated $110 million per year in endorsements.


Tiger's not the only star whose shown his stripes. Check out which other males leave a lot to be desired in our What a Douche! gallery.