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What's Next for the Tiger Economy


Marketing pros weigh in on how the golfer's sponsors should react.

Fans must wonder: Did he throw his legendary fist pump after scoring women's numbers?

According to media reports, there are as many as 10 women that have now stepped forward to brag about their involvement with Tiger Woods. The New York Post reported that a 26-year-old cocktail waitress in Orlando is one of the latest doe-eyed gal that the 33-year-old Woods wooed.

Number seven on that list, in case you're trying to keep count at home: porn star Holly Sampson, whose 85 films include OMG, Stop Tickling Me.

So far, the many blockbuster corporate sponsors of Woods such as Nike (NKE), Gillette, and Gatorade have dutifully stuck with him as the sex scandal has unfolded. But, looking ahead, will these companies continue to think of the superstar as a smart spokesman for their products?

Before these allegations of infidelity blew up, corporate America could count on Woods as a clean-cut, composed professional who dominated the sport since going pro in the late summer of 1996.

His list of accomplishments is awesome: Woods has won 93 tournaments, 71 of those on the PGA Tour, including the 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2005 Masters Tournaments; 1999, 2000, 2006, and 2007 PGA Championships; 2000, 2002, and 2008 US Open Championships; and 2000, 2005, and 2006 Open Championships.

The success has earned Woods more money than he'll ever be able to spend: $1 billion from prize money and deals. After Uncle Sam took his share of taxes, Forbes estimates that Woods' net worth is now a cool $500 million.

The bulk of the $130 million he raked in this year came from deals cut in the boardroom. Sponsors include Accenture (ACN), Electronic Arts (ERTS), Nike, and PepsiCo (PEP), which launched a line of Gatorade Tiger sports drinks last year.

At least for now, these companies are standing by their spokesman, according to The New York Times. "Tiger and his family have Nike's full support," a Nike statement read; "Like each of us, they are human," said Gillette, a unit of Procter & Gamble (PG), speaking of its brand ambassadors; "Our partnership with Tiger continues," echoed the team at Gatorade.

One question for Tiger is what this entire sordid story now means for his powerhouse brand, says Robert Sprung of New York-based branding consultancy TippingSprung.
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