Updated: Oct 6, 2020
In the interests of full disclosure (or to stop anyone pointing out some hypocrisy), I’ve never been a Tiger Woods fan. But his victory at Masters 2019 can teach us an awful lot about sport, marketing, careers and even life.
1. Refusing to give up
This is the most obvious one. In the eleven years since his last major victory, it’s safe to say that Woods has had an eventful time. Having been untouchable for over a decade, a high profile scandal in 2009 exposed his series of infidelities, costing him some of his best paid endorsement deals including Gillette, AT&T and Gatorade. The years that followed were hugely turbulent, as Tiger tried to reclaim past glories despite being ravaged with injury (including spinal fusions). In May 2017, he was ranked outside the top 1,000 golfers in the years and suffered further indignation as he was arrested for DUI after an adverse effect to pain killers. Lesser folk would have called it a day but Woods always maintained he had what it took to win again and sure enough he completed what is arguably the greatest sporting comeback of all time.
2. Sponsorship is about long-term pay off
One of the sponsors who didn’t leave Woods in the midst of the off-course furore was Nike. As mentioned in previous articles (SEE HERE), they appreciate the long-term value in standing by their athletes through thick and thin. There have been examples such as Lance Armstrong, of course, where they dropped athletes. But Nike signed a new deal with Woods in 2013 and maintained that his 2017 run-in with the law did nothing to alter their endorsement. Fast forward just two years and they have the credibility to take equity in the greatest comeback. There were there when it all started, they were there when it went belly up and they were there when the unbelievable happened.
3. Timing is everything
Which leads us on to marketing. No sooner had Tiger sunk the winning putt, Nike released the latest instalment in their ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign. A celebration of Tiger’s remarkable comeback. It’s not as glossy or shiny as many-a-Nike advert, consisting largely of old footage and text overlay but it captures the power of the story perfectly. Crucially, it was out there as soon as Woods had secured the title. At a moment when his star was shining brighter than ever, his sponsor was there to share in the glory. Not just in the traditional sponsorship channels of logo placement, but in amongst all the social noise, Nike’s creative, adding to the conversation, not detracting from it.
4. Stories are what capture the imagination
You don’t have to be a golf fan to appreciate the Woods comeback. It’s the kind of story that transcends golf and transcends sport for that matter. There’s plenty to be learnt from Nike in how to make a story compelling and it’s something that golf should be doing itself. When these remarkable narratives play out, be there to shine a light on your sport. Make sure that the next Tiger Woods is watching and inspire him or her to pick up a club. Many rights holders are trying to engage a younger audience, particularly in social channels but there’s a fine balance to be struck. The temptation is to over-sensationalise everything, a bit like FA Cup account did the other week when Man City took the lead against Brighton.
Fine cross though it was, it’s the modern endemic of social to suggest that everything is the best thing you’ve ever seen. While it generates engagement, not all of it is positive (see below).
To be fair to those in charge of those social accounts, they generally did a great job of capturing the excitement of the FA Cup semi-finals, in particular the Watford comeback against Wolves. Some of the nice touches employed included an Instagram takeover from MUNDIAL, the darlings of the hipster footballing fraternity and fine story-tellers in their own right.
5. The sporting world is full of Tigers
Okay, Woods’ comeback is more than likely to be a once in a generation epic. But the sports universe is rife with amazing stories and there are athletes out there who simply can’t compete without the help of their sponsors. You don’t need to have Nike’s budget or Tiger’s profile, to have meaningful conversations with athlete’s fanbases. If you’re a brand that’s making something incredible possible for a sportsperson, then there’s a great opportunity to tell that story.
If you want to excite fans about your brand then get in touch with Underdog Sports Marketing now.