From Thanksgiving Turkey to Springtime Favorite

April 14, 2010

By Duke Fanelli, CMO at the ANA

I maybe a bit late to the party, but I was thinking about Tiger Woods and the hype surrounding his decision to play at the Masters Tournament. I have to admit, for all intents and purpose he played masterly… yeah some bad shots and he was highly critical of his own play, but he finished Sunday tied for fourth (-11 under par). Not bad after being out of commission for more than five months, dealing with personal and family issues.

Most striking throughout the four-day Tigerfest, was the media and gallery’s acceptance of Tiger. If you had spent the past five months living in a cave, you’d never have known how nasty things got. The No. 1 player in the world was back and he and his fans were basking in the glow. (Not to take anything away from Phil Mickelson’s win, which was spectacular, well deserved and a milestone in his career.) The Sports, marketing and armchair pundits, who earlier this year wanted to see Tiger’s head impaled on a fairway wood, were nowhere to be seen. Except for an errant Tiger-detractor, who paid to have a small plane fly over Augusta National — with a not so obvious reference to Tiger’s apology speech — the crowd loved watching his come back.

So where does this all leave us? American’s have notoriously short memories when it comes to celebrity misdeeds and we are certainly as forgiving when it comes to the idiotic behavior of our star athletes. So the question is: will Tiger get some of his old endorsements back? I’m guessing the answer is no. But a more intriguing question may be are new endorsements right around the corner? And, who is first in line? Anyone want to weigh in with a guess?

By the way, Tiger’s comeback at the Masters gave ESPN the highest U.S. audience ever for a golf event on cable TV, as nearly 5 million people tuned in to watch Thursday’s first round. As the millions viewing the Master’s can attest, Tiger’s back, his fan base is strong and shooting 11 under par last week, is a clear indication that he is capable (which some doubted) of topping the list of golf’s superstars for some time to come. Is this a Rod Tidwell and Jerry McGuire moment?

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