By Randy Lewis
The game of golf became more bearable to watch as the most recognizable player in the game decided to take his clubs and head home to Florida for a few weeks. After winning the Canadian Open on Sept. 10, Tiger Woods has not been seen on a golf course.
Unfortunately, that does not necessarily mean the public can escape Mr. Woods. There are far too many other opportunities to see his face.
It appears as though "Tiger saturation" has been accomplished.
In our age of consumerism, businesses are constantly working to make their product or service more attractive to Joe Shopper. A great number of these companies resort to using athletes to advertise their merchandise. During the ’90s, Michael Jordan held the title of "Every Marketer’s Dream Athlete," and, as we head into the 21st century, it appears as though the poster boy for advertising will be Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, overkill can occur and in Mr. Woods’ case it already has.
It is bad enough the networks feel obligated to show 35 minutes of Tiger coverage every hour during a golf tournament, but advertisers pay them money to get Tiger’s face on 10 minutes worth of commercials as well. Just when you think you’ve escaped that toothy grin, there he is during the break saying, "Be a Tiger, buy a Buick." Out of every hour of a tournament, Tiger Woods occupies approximately three-quarters of that time. Most people do not even allow their family members to take up that much of their time, let alone some overpaid celebrity.
This calendar year, Mr. Woods is projected to make between $65-70 million, with only $10 million of that made from swinging a club.
The additional $55-60 million comes from a number of different corporations, ranging from one of the largest multinational sporting goods outfitters (Nike) to a major credit card company (American Express) and a brewery (Asahi Beverages). Therefore, Tiger has a difficult decision to make. Should he spend a couple of hours on site shooting a commercial under those hot television lights, or should he spend a weekend gallivanting around a golf course for a few hours under the hot sun? Either way he will make disgusting amounts of money for doing relatively little work. A tough decision for sure.
If Tiger was restricted to television alone, his face might be bearable but sadly his image has infiltrated other forms of media. Magazines and newspapers seize every possible opportunity to put Mr. Woods on the cover in hopes of selling extra copies and, once inside, one does not need to look deep in the magazine to find Tiger’s picture. For example, in this week’s Sports Illustrated, he is on page five selling cars and later he is profiled as signing the richest endorsement deal ever for an active athlete. He and Nike recently agreed upon a five-year $100 million deal, further cementing him as the foremost corporate whore in our consumer-based world.
So even on his vacation Tiger Woods’ image dominates our extensive media and in the process makes him more money than some developing nations make in a year.
The truly unfortunate thing is that all of Mr. Woods’ endorsement deals are long term, and his popularity is unmistakably reaching new heights each month. So his face, alongside the logo of his latest employer, will continue to grace everything that is visible to the public. It appears as though "Tiger saturation" will persist for many years to come.