Sponsors hit hard after Tiger scandal

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Two economists from UC Davis have analyzed stock market returns following Tiger Woods’ car accident on Nov. 27 and subsequent announcement that he was indefinitely leaving golf. Their findings suggest the scandal reduced shareholder value in the golfer’s sponsor companies by 2.3 percent, or about $12 billion. (Credit: Paddy Briggs/2005)

UC DAVIS (US)—The reputation of golfer Tiger Woods isn’t the only thing that took a major hit in the wake of the scandal involving his extramarital affairs, a recent study finds. Shareholders of Nike, Gatorade, and other sponsors lost a collective $5 to $12 billion, with sports-related companies faring the worst.

The losses are separate from—and potentially much larger than—damage to Woods’ own earnings.

“Total shareholder losses may exceed several decades’ worth of Tiger Woods’ personal endorsement income,” says study coauthor Victor Stango, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis.

Stango and fellow economics professor Christopher Knittel looked at stock market returns for the 13 trading days that fell between Nov. 27, the date of the car crash involving Woods, and Dec. 17, a week after Woods announced his indefinite leave from the sport.

To assess shareholder losses, the economists compared returns for Woods’ sponsors during this period to those of both the total stock market and of each sponsor’s closest competitor.

Knittel and Stango also reviewed returns for four years before the car accident to determine how each sponsor’s market performance normally correlates with that of the total market and of competitor firms.

The study looked at eight sponsors for which stock prices are available: Accenture; AT&T; Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf (Electronic Arts); Gillette (Proctor and Gamble); Nike; Gatorade (PepsiCo); TLC Laser Eye Centers; and Golf Digest (Conde Nast).

Overall, Knittel and Stango concluded that the scandal reduced shareholder value in the sponsor companies by 2.3 percent, or about $12 billion.

“(This) pattern of losses is unlikely to stem from ordinary day-to-day variation in their stock prices,” the researchers write.

Investors in the three sports-related companies (Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, Gatorade, and Nike) fared the worst, the study found. They experienced a 4.3-percent scandal-generated drop in stock value, equivalent to about $6 billion.
On the other hand, Accenture, a global management consulting firm, experienced no ill effects following the accident.

“Economic theory would predict this,” Knittel explains. “For Tiger Woods, having a firm like Accenture as a sponsor probably does not enhance the overall value of the Tiger brand very much, giving Woods a lot of bargaining power when negotiating that deal.

“If the company therefore ends up paying Woods something close to its extra profit from his endorsement, it isn’t much worse off without him than with him,” he adds. “However, Nike and other premier sports-related sponsors are special for an athlete like Tiger Woods. They are themselves powerful brands that add value to Tiger’s brand and create other financial opportunities for him.

“This gives a premier sports sponsor the bargaining power to capture some of the profits generated by an endorsement deal with Woods—so that if the Tiger brand is tarnished, those profits may decline. Our study measures that decline.”

The pace of losses had slowed by Dec. 11, the day Woods announced his leave from golf, Knittel and Stango note. But as late as Dec. 17, shareholder had yet to reverse their losses.

“Our findings speak to a larger question of general interest in the business and academic communities: Does celebrity sponsorship have any impact on a firm’s bottom line?” Stango says.

“Our analysis makes clear that while having a celebrity of Tiger Woods’ stature as an endorser has an undeniable upside, the downside risk is substantial too.”

Before the scandal, Woods earned about $100 million a year in endorsement income, more than any other athlete.

University of California at Davis news: www.news.ucdavis.edu/

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3 Comments

  1. SDS

    Tiger is a man with immense talent, determination to be the best in his field, and the poor judgment that often results from over-concentrating on the development of some parts of one’s life at the exclusion of developing others. He needs to grow up emotionally and take responsibility for his actions. Until he does, he will be shunned for being too much like everyone else: mortal, fallible, selfish. We like our heroes to be blemish-free in this society.

    He can, however, redeem himself, with integrity and good actions. Americans love to forgive, if the person seeking forgiveness is sincere in his remorse for the pain he has caused himself and others, and not just sorry for having been caught.

  2. Aland

    This investigation of the economic effect of Tiger Woods’ personal problems seems far too simplistic. As a celebrity spokesman, Mr. Woods does not do anything creative or productive for his sponsors. At most his endorsement of products simply moves sales from one company to another (for a fee). Thus income (dividend) losses should pretty much balance out and diversified investors should see little, if any net loss. (Do people really drink less or shave less because they don’t see Mr Woods’ face?) Any share price loss not related to a profit loss shows that part of the price was a Tiger “bubble”, certainly not something to count on.

    Investment “losses” also should balance out. If share prices drop, new buyers get a bargain and the overall value of the company just gets re-distributed. If profits actually fall more than the amount paid to Mr Woods, the shareholders of competitors should be gaining.

    Note- if Gilette paid Mr Woods 2 million a year and chooses not to replace him, their sales would have to drop enough to reduce theor profit by 2 million a year before there would be any effect on their bottom line. This might become a valueable experiment that could ultimately benefit shareholders.

  3. Gabriel Zapata

    It’s a mistake to believe that a human is a superhero who can not fail. Tiger Woods is a human is capable of breaching the fine print of an advertising contract.

    But it is a maximum error of believing that we can enter someone’s private life only because it represents a corporate sponsor of his activity as a golfer.

    Only he can assess the current situation and move forward without the burden of human errors as committed in the past.

    We have faith, we also feel that TW will be the champion that we all want to see over his competitors and shake those companies that gave away a difficult time of your life.

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