tiger woods

12/10/2011 23:16


Although other sponsors (Tag Heur, Accenture, AT&T, Gillete) have cut some or all ties with embattled golfer Tiger Woods, Electronic Arts has decided to stay the course.EA will release Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online by the end of January, in a show of support for the world's biggest punching bag. Featuring Woods on the cover, the latest title will run on Mac and PC and be available to stream directly from the net. The game sounds interesting, but much of yesterday's blog post from EA Sports President Peter Moore focused on the choice to stick with Tiger:"This decision will no doubt create some attention and further speculation about Tiger Woods, and about his relationship with sponsors. With that in mind, I want to shed some light on why EA SPORTS has decided to continue with Tiger on the masthead of this game.Our relationship with Tiger has always been rooted in golf. We didn't form a relationship with him so that he could act as an arm's length endorser. Far from it. We chose to partner with Tiger in 1997 because we saw him as the world's best, most talented and exciting golfer. We struck that partnership with the assumption that he would remain near or at the top of his sport for years to come. By his own admission, he's made some mistakes off the course. But regardless of what's happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history. At EA SPORTS, we make authentic sports simulations. When we say "It's in the Game", it is not just a tag line but a statement about the quality and authenticity of the game experience. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Online is truly representative of that rallying cry, and a game that all of us at EA SPORTS are proud to be delivering this month to sports console gaming fans around the globe."A couple of observations:EA didn't have much of a choice with this one.Sure, they could have changed the title. But Moore says the game has been in closed beta for eight months, with over 75,000 people involved. They were already all-in on this one, making it more complicated to change the cover athlete than keep it the same. That's not normally the case, but it's different with Tiger, who's head and shoulders above every other golfer in the world. Had the scandal hit six months earlier, EA could have spent time on a new strategy... in this case, there was too little time and too much else to do.Moving forward, it will still be difficult to cut ties with Woods.As I mentioned, Woods is on another level when it comes to golf. He doesn't win every week and even struggles from time to time, but Tiger is still hands-down the best golfer on the planet. Whilst they may prefer to cut Woods loose, Electronic Arts will have a tough time finding someone to match his star power, unless Jack Nicklaus is landing on a throwback title. The Tiger Woods PGA Tour series has been incredibly successful and could lose sales with a new cover athlete - Padraig Harrington PGA Tour 11 doesn't quite have the same ring, does it? And he was Player of the Year in 2008. I don't think EA changes the brand unless something even crazier emerges, and that brings me to my next point:For this type of sponsor, personal life doesn't matter. It shouldn't hurt EA much to keep Woods.This is really the main point Moore was trying to make. For EA, their relationship with Tiger is based on his ability as a golfer. And it makes sense, right, since their product is a golf video game. Everyone buying the game enjoys golf to some degree, while many were drawn to the sport by Tiger in the first place. Plenty of these people will ignore real-life golf while Woods takes his leave of absence, before returning to watch when he eventually returns. Fans of golf - video game, real or both - associate Tiger with the sport and care little about his personal life. Sure, the casual gamer may not buy the title, but I doubt the scandal has a big impact on sales.With that said, the rules are different for a company like Accenture. Even though EA hired Woods for his golf game, Accenture paid for his image. Yes, that image includes Tiger's work ethic and on-course skills, but they expect model behavior away from the game. Just think about the brands and what they stand for - EA is "in the game," despite the fact that Accenture is built on a reputation of high standards and strong ethics. Plus, as a consulting firm, they GIVE ADVICE... not really something that works well with Tiger's image these days.When it comes down to it, each brand is different and not every Tiger-related decision is equal. Nike, another sponsor to stay with Woods, is athletics-based. It makes sense that companies like that would make the same choice as EA. Of course, Nike may want to keep their "just do it" slogan out of Tiger's ads... moving on...Read more about tiger woods It's still a tough decision for EA, but it's the right one. When it comes down to it, Electronic Arts could have gone either way with this one. There were reasons to cut ties with Woods and reasons to stick with him. But in the end, EA made the right choice for the long-term sales of their video game product. When he's is back on the course winning majors, Tiger will be like Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick and the other athletes we've seen forgiven by the American public. At that point, EA will be very happy with this decision.For more info tiger woods



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