Tiger Woods and the Risks of Celebrity Endorsements
By Tom Ryan
After news of
his infidelity and his decision to quit golf, Accenture became the first
firm to end its marketing relationship with Tiger Woods. To some, the ordeal
underscores the risks around celebrity endorsements with the propagation
of Hollywood gossip websites and social media.
Writing for Advertising Age,
columnist Pete Blackshaw said that while gossip in the past was traditionally
spread at office coolers, social media and the web’s search capabilities
acts like a “feeding frenzy on steroids” for curiosity seekers. In the
last two weeks, the shelf-space for Google search results for “Tiger
Woods” had shifted from 95 percent favorable to nearly 50 percent hostile.
What particularly keeps scandals
around, however, is that the web creates a permanent record of any scandal.
And the bigger the scandal, the more content spreads across the web, equating
to a perpetual “Reminder-gram,” Mr. Blackshaw wrote. He noted that Wikipedia
alone had nearly 500 words dedicated to “Car Accident & Alleged Affairs.”
“At the end of the day, fair
or not, our brand equity is inseparable from the volume and composition
of our search results,” Mr. Blackshaw concluded. “And the web rarely, if
for CNN, Anita Elberse, a professor at Harvard Business School,
cited a study she conducted that showed that brands across a number of
product categories jumped an average of four percent in the six months
after the start of an endorsement deal. Some grew more than 20 percent.
Importantly, the endorsements differentiated themselves from competitors, “which
did not experience any spillover of increased sales.”
a star’s fans to a brand, an endorser reassures consumers about a product’s
attributes and quality. For example, seeing Maria Sharapova using a Prince
racket shows the item is premium quality or the tennis star “herself would
be at risk of damaging her reputation.”
said Accenture’s decision to drop Mr. Woods made sense since his actions
ran counter to the consulting firm’s messages, including the payoffs of
risk-taking behavior and recovering from setbacks. But she believes the
rewards in most cases far outweigh the risks.
rely on athlete endorsers know they can be in for a rocky road — their
allied partners can suffer from injuries, a loss of form, scandals, rumors,
and a range of other woes — and they need to adapt accordingly,” wrote
Ms. Elbserer. “But don’t expect firms to cut back on the strategy altogether,
as endorsers on the whole generate considerable value.”
Questions: Has the proliferation of internet and social media chatter
increased the risks around celebrity endorsements? If so, how should strategies
around using celebrities in campaigns be reassessed?
the Long-Term Impact of the Tiger Woods Mess – Advertising
- Risks and
rewards of celebrity endorsements – CNN.com