Concentrate on the golf!

Long before his current notoriety I’ve been citing Tiger Woods to make a point about the need for companies and individuals to focus on being good rather than on short term profit. I borrowed the idea from Geoffrey A Moore from his book about how great companies innovate continuously titled “ Dealing with Darwin”.

Tiger Woods earned $127m in the last full year before his fall. This included $24m in prize money and over $100m in sponsorships according to Sports Illustrated. Moore’s question was this. If Woods made only 20% of his income from the practice of golf how much of his time and energy should he have invested in being better at golf as opposed to finding new sponsors

Frankly given the current situation he finds himself in the answer is even more poignant (clearly the answer is NOT only 20%). Obviously we would all have told Tiger to concentrate on the golf and hire other people to chase sponsorship and marketing opportunities for him. Having come fourth in the Masters he’s now saying he plans to take another break from competitive sport. Shouldn’t he be keeping his eye on the ball?

He’s been slated for failing to be a role model to our children (by the chair of the Augusta Natonal Club). He’s been criticised for looking a bit gloomy when he didn’t win last week. And now he is refusing to say when if ever he will return to competition. “I finished fourth” Woods said “it’s not what I wanted”. Asked about his bad mood he said “People are making way too much of a deal on this”. (

Now Nike have released a new commercial featuring his dead father’s voice over apparently asking him if he learnt anything.(

If Nike intended to create debate and dialogue they’ve certainly succeeded. Most of the debate I’ve read has been about whether it was appropriate to use his father’s voice from an interview about his mother for this purpose. Some have called it dishonest (see Jonathan Salem Baskin at Some might see this as an extraordinary use of the personal to make a commercial point.

The real point here is whether Woods is in the end still a great sportsman, or just a media and entertainment brand. If, and when he returns to competition we will find out. In the meantime I think that Woods has just spoilt the Moore illustration for me by making by raising the possibility that he’s focussing on the money he can make from sponsorships instead of concentrating on the golf. In brand terms milking the cash cow, not investing in the rising star, can’t pay off for ever

One Response to “Concentrate on the golf!”

  1. Tom C says:

    Tiger’s comments about coming fourth highlight what a flawed character he really is. Surely to avoid further exasperation for all those following both his sporting and personal exploits he should be coming out and saying how great it is to be back, thank you for all the support he’s received from the very forgiving crowds, and that he feels very privileged to be the hero of many people across the globe. But no – he just wants to have his cake and eat it.

    And what’s quite interesting is the fact that Nike capitalised on other people’s misery with a very poor ad that has little or no relevance to Nike other than to say ‘look everyone – we’re standing by our man’ (or rather ‘we’re exploiting the situation’). Maybe this time they shouldn’t stand by their man – not because he’s a sex addict but because he’s miserable, spoilt and, as we’ve always known, a very bad loser.