What Tiger Woods' Absence From The Masters Means For Nike

Apr 2 2014, 10:29pm CDT | by

What Tiger Woods' Absence From The Masters Means For Nike
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Tiger Woods will not be participating in this year’s Masters.  His health-related absence announced merely a week prior to the event has become a major topic of conversation among fans of golf and casual spectators who tune in for what is one of golf’s biggest annual tournaments.  While many remain disappointed that Tiger will not be participating, the biggest blow may be to his best (brand) friend — Nike.

Tiger’s withdrawal from this year’s Masters means that the way the event is covered will be dramatically altered.  He is commonly one of the most covered players of the tournament, which leads to extreme exposure for his sponsors, including Nike.

According to the sports marketing and sponsorship analysts at Repucom, Tiger Woods was Nike’s No. 1 player brand platform at The Masters in 2013 and the amount of televised coverage focused on Tiger provided Nike 3-times more exposure than Nike’s next best brand endorser, Rory McIlroy.  Repucom suggests that null , compared to McIlroy’s 10 minutes and 27 seconds, much of which occurred almost entirely in the first round and away from the highly valued weekend’s broadcast window.

Tiger’s absence may be devastating to Nike, especially if Rory McIlroy fails to achieve success on the course.  Data provided by Repucom reveals that in 2013 with Woods playing, Nike generated over $3.8 million worth of media value* compared to without him, receiving just over $700,000 worth of value.

“From a brand perspective, this is challenging news for Nike, though Tiger will still dominate news coverage leading into Thursday’s first round.  Rory McIlroy has an opportunity to play a leading role for Nike during the tournament and it will be interesting to see just how well he can perform and carry the brand through the event,” explained Paul Smith, CEO of Repucom to FORBES.

Is there anything that Nike can do to “replace” Woods?  ”In short, no,” responded Smith.  ”Tiger is a phenomenon that has dominated an individual sport for over twenty years.  Unlike a team situation where individual superstars are part of group model and often want to blend into that team structure for cohesiveness and team dynamic, and retirement and replacement are part of the franchise model, Tiger has set his own agenda and been dominant in all facets and there is no new Tiger and probably will be a unique model that is unlikely to be repeated.”

Paul Smith added that for brands endemic to golf, such as Nike, Titleist & TaylorMade, The Masters drives over 20% of all of the exposure and media value in the sport in the United States — more than any other tournament.  Thus, Nike is going to feel the pain of Tiger’s absence no matter what it does from now until the start of The Masters.

Tiger’s nonappearance also creates an opportunity for other brands that may have been overshadowed by Tiger Woods and his Nike apparel.  ”Probably Titleist and the brands associated with Adam Scott as defending champion will be expecting an uplift as a lot more focus will go on Adam in the first two days,” concluded Smith.

*REPUCOM’s adjusted media equivalency model that accounts for the quality of brand presentation on screen in addition to audience and broadcast coverage.

The World's Highest-Paid Golfers

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