Tiger, Buick Part Ways

imageAfter nine years, General Motors and Tiger Woods are parting ways.

It apparently was a mutual decision. Tiger says that he wants to “concentrate on growing his own Tiger brand,” and General Motors desperately needs to save money. While the eight million a year they were paying him is pittance compared to the company’s $73 billion on losses since 2004, every little bit counts.

It’s just as well. I never thought Woods was believable as a Buick spokesman. In fact, there’s absolutely nothing about Tiger Woods that says “cars” to me.

Tiger didn’t do the brand much good, either. The median age of a Buck buyer in 2008 was 68—hardly Tiger’s demographic. Buick sales today are half what they were in 1999. With those numbers, Buick has been the hardest hit of all the GM brands. This year, Buick sales are down 25%, compared to 20% for General Motors other brands.

Buick apparently still will be involved in golf, at least for the time being. The car company remains—until 2010—sponsor of The Buick Invitational, and the Buick Open, and is the official vehicle of the Tour. Buick courtesy cars still will be offered at many events. GM’s golf future is unknown after 2010.

Don’t be surprised if GM pulls out of golf altogether after that. Ford dropped its sponsorships in favor of Bull Riding a couple of years ago.

The big question for me is what Tiger means by “growing his own Tiger brand.”  Will his bag now simply sport the very recognizable TW logo? That would allow him to simultaneously promote any number of Tiger Woods branded products: golf equipment, apparel, video games, TW Gatorade, Tag Heuer watches and so on.

Where does he go beyond that? The image he has created for himself doesn’t leave a lot of room for expansion. In fact, in his single-minded pursuit of golf’s records, Tiger strikes me as somewhat of an ascetic—like an medieval monk who has forsaken all worldly pleasures in devotion to God.

I’m having a hard time coming up with products he could believably pitch. The Gillette thing is ridiculous, as his relationship with the discount store Target. I don’t believe he knows anything about cars. I can’t relate to his financial company endorsements.

Fast Food? Beer? Electronics? Can anyone seriously see him with a Big Mac or Budweiser in hand? Telling us of the virtues of an HP computer? Or smiling after a victory and telling the world that he’s “going to Disneyworld?”

Will the Tiger Woods brand involve peripheral businesses? Tiger already has a growing golf course design company. A chain of golf schools would make sense. But beyond that?

Arnold Palmer once owned and lent his name to a successful chain of dry cleaners. Is there something similar in Woods’ future? Would anyone go to eat at a Tiger Woods family restaurant? Book a vacation through Woods Travel? Go to a Tiger Gym?

I don’t know where he goes with this. For me, his name and image just don’t extend beyond the boundaries of the golf course.





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3 thoughts on “Tiger, Buick Part Ways”

  1. It was always a bit weird for Tiger to be pushing Buick. 

    However, now I don’t think is the time for GM to be pulling back from advertising or sponsorships.  Before they cut 8 million in endorsements, perhaps they should cut 8 million from the $25 million pay for the CEO.  I am just guessing that Tiger has sold more cars though advertising than that guy has. 

    What really needs to happen is a wholesale slaughter of brands at GM.  GMC & Hummer (& Jeep if the Chrysler merge happens) needs to become one brand under GMC; Pontiac, Saturn, and Buick need to merge into a single brand (maybe call them Oldsmobile, just for fun). Keep Chevy and Cadillac as they are (although I would say move the Enclave to be an entry CUV for Caddy)

    And on the ford side, what is the purpose of Mercury?  Other than having Jennifer Wagner do those commercials (which often gets me a little tingly)- that is a complete waste.  Maybe it meant something at some point, but having the same price point between Ford and Mercury makes no sense.  The Lincoln models of the Edge and Fusion actually do make sense—there is a different luxury to that brand. 

    But until the changes are made on the legacy costs (job bank and ridiculous retirement benefits), I am one GM and Ford owner who will remain against any bailout until the companys declare bankrupcy and reorganize getting out from under these horrid contracts.  They have to be profitable if they are to survive.

  2. I bought a Buick this year and I’m 35 years old and don’t like Tiger and wouldn’t buy anything he says I need just because he says I need it.  I think the problem with Buick is that they seem to be in transition.  They want to move from the old retired buyer crowd to a younger crowd.  They have streamlined their production to just three models and I think it would take a while to build up their sales in this economy.  At my place of work, two employees bought Chevy Cobalts within a couple months of each other.  And another one bought a Ford Focus.  Fuel efficient, and cheap, cars.  Buick’s models aren’t cheap and the best highway mileage any of them gets is 28mpg.  I think with the right advertising, Buick could really improve their sales.  Another problem I think is that the dealerships aren’t on board with what Buick is trying to do.  I have a very sporty and cool looking red LaCrosse.  Well, my dealership had to search all over the state to find it. If I had wanted a boring white or gray one, I could have had my pick with many different options – leather seats and the like.  The dealerships aren’t stocking the cool colors like red and blue.  They are stocking the boring colors – white, gray, silver.  Yuck.  You’re not going to get a young person with money to buy a boring looking car. I don’t think my LaCrosse’s body style is boring.  But if it was silver or white, I don’t think I would like it very much. Maybe Buick needs some commercials with hot, young guys and girls driving them, instead of rich Tiger standing next to one.

  3. He could endorse any product / brand that has legitimate claims to being Number 1 or is amongst the best in its domain!

    If he tries to endorse a brand which is clearly not #1 (like Buick) it wont work.


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