With all eyes on advertisers to see if they’ll break sponsorship ties with Tiger Woods, I started thinking about how important image is to a business. While Accenture has dropped the golf champ in the wake of his car crash and mistress scandal, stating that “he is no longer the right representative for its advertising,” Nike and EA have pledged to support Woods and maintain their sponsorship deals, and AT&T has stated it’s evaluating their business relationship.
The question is: Will Tiger Woods’ image do more harm for a product post-scandal, or will companies such as Accenture lose recognition without him? Celebrity endorsement isn’t much of an issue for small businesses – there usually isn’t money in the budget for that. But the Tiger Woods story is still something that smaller companies should consider. What does your marketing campaign say about your company and its products or services? Do you use models or real people? Are your real people open to political attack or some other form of controversy? If they’re models, are they so picture-perfect that they’re not relatable? Do you use children? Does your image make you relatable to parents? But does it also alienate you from people with no children? Are you reinforcing gender roles through your marketing with children by featuring a mommy taking care of a child while dad watches sports? Are you marketing in an area that would care? Do you use people of different nationalities and gender? Do the people in your marketing campaign reflect the audience you’re trying to reach? Are you alienating a certain gender, ethnic group or religion by excluding those members in your advertising? Do you count on endorsements or scientific facts? How much emphasis do you place on endorsements, and how much will your audience realistically trust those endorsements? Do you believe your own marketing claims? Tiger Woods was considered to be a role model to a lot of people, and now that this scandal has erupted, there is much debate on how much Woods’ personal life should affect his professional one. Every company is different and has a different audience – it’s up to you to decide what type of image you need to project to grow your business.