Tiger Wood’s sexual indiscretions cost him sponsorships from Gatorade, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Tag Hauer, Procter & Gamble Co.’s (NYSE: PG) Gillette, and Accenture PLC (NYSE: ACN) in 2010. Among his major sponsors, only Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) stayed with him. A strong 2012 season and a hot start to 2013 guarantee a new set of sponsors, and they likely will be competitors of those that abandoned him.
The largest wireless carriers continue to be locked in a war over a market saturated by subscribers. Few athletes or celebrities have the drawing power and command the TV time that Woods does. AT&T was right to sponsor him. Verizon Wireless would be wise to pick up Woods for the same reasons AT&T was. As 4G and new smartphones from Samsung and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) revolutionize the market, Verizon needs more marketing leverage.
Accenture competes with several other global consulting firms for corporate and government customers. It invested millions of dollars in ad campaigns centered around Woods. Accenture’s major competitor — PcW — is already a large PGA tour sponsor. As a matter of fact, it was the title sponsor of the Players Championship, which Woods just won. Its commitment to the sport is already in place. Woods is the logical face of PcW as its extends it participation in the sport.
Coca-Cola Co.’s (NYSE: KO) Powerade is Gatorade’s primary competitor. All of its endorsement deals are with major athletes, including LeBron James and Derrick Rose. Given the prices these athletes command for their associations with Powerade, the drink already invests tens of millions of dollars in endorsements. Woods would be an ideal athlete to round out its stable, based on the fact that he dominates his sport the way that James does.
General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Buick division dropped Woods before the scandal. Its fortunes crumbled ahead of it entering Chapter 11. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) and Chrysler compete with Buick. Either one of them could turn to Woods to build its brand. Chrysler in particular relies on the U.S. market, because it has little presence overseas.
Woods had what was once estimated to be several hundred million dollars in sponsors. He has won seven of his most recent 21 PGA starts, and four so far this year. During most tournaments, he is on television for several hours — just the kind of exposure major sponsors crave.