The Buzz by Mike Schaffer - PR, Social Media, Pop Culture and Sports

PR, Pop Culture, Sports

December 12, 2009

Pitchman Tiger Woods – Discontinued

Tags: buick, gatorade, golf, pga, tiger, tiger woods

I went shopping this morning, hoping to beat the crowds to the supermarket.  After three weeks away, our pantry was barren and our fridge was empty, so it was a much-needed trip.

My grocery store usually has Powerade Zero for a decent price, so I stopped by to pick up a few bottles.

I grabbed their two new flavors (orange and lemon-lime!) and scanned the rest of the aisle and saw a huge tag shouting “DISCONTINUED ITEM” with a ridiculously low price.

What could this item be that was once worthy of a prominent placement in a major-chain grocery store that has now ceased production?

Tiger Woods-sponsored Gatorade flavors.

Yes, just days after the company dropped their sponsorship, the bottles were practically being given away.

Of course, there is the moral dilemma: I like the product and it is insanely cheap…but…it’s got the name of a confessed adulterer on it.  (Disclosure – my company has worked with Tiger Woods’ Foundation and handled the PR for events Tiger has appeared in.)

I held the bottle in my hand for a moment and thought, “Hot damn, that’s a good price!” and put it in my basket and moved on to find sweet potatoes, hummus and Kashi cereal.  (Note – those are items I consume separately, not ingredients in a dish!)

As consumers, we like to say we don’t put a lot of stock into pitchmen and sponsorships, but they really do impact our purchasing habits.  Vitamin Water, for example, seemed like a fairly “granola” concept, a drink filled with vitamins and minerals, perfect for us liberal hippies, right?  Well, once 50 Cent had his name on one of their flavors, the entire line gained a new audience.

So, in the reverse, if Tiger Woods has become Public Enemy #1, would his name on a bottle of Gatorade deter you from buying it?  Obviously the Powers-That-Be at Gatorade HQ thought so and severed a long-term agreement with the global golf icon.

Tiger’s image over the past decade has been one of excellence, dignity, class, with an appreciation for the finer things in life, like nice cars and watches.  Buick became a “cool” line because Tiger endorsed them.

It seemed like the endorsements came to define Woods, who quietly dominated his sport.

But for now, at least, it seems that companies don’t want to be associated with him, as he tries to keep his family business out of the spotlight.

And, for now, his Gatorade flavors are off the shelves of grocery stores.

What do you think?  Was Gatorade’s action knee-jerk or a good long-term move?

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