It has been argued that people brands are more like moving targets because they are constantly changing, faced with all forms of stimuli and forced to react in one way or another to such stimuli. People brands are always confronted with the judging gaze of the general public through the media and unrelenting paparazzi. The attention of people from the opposite sex will always present temptations that may not always be easy to resist for any “sexy looking” people brand. Tiger Woods, because of his wealth, relative youth, vast media appeal and good looks, has always been in danger of falling into actions or reactions that would impact somewhat on his brand. The reason for this is simple. He is human.
Where to from here for the Tiger Woods Brand?
The question is no longer whether Tiger Woods should have allowed himself to engage in sexual relations with the dozen or so women who have now been linked to him, or not. It is also no longer about trying to find the reasons for his behavior, justified or not. That is for Woods’ councilors to unpack. From a Brand Management perspective, the question is whether the Tiger Woods Brand can and will survive the media onslaught and the effect of the avalanche of “blond outings” (pun intended) that hasn’t even showed signs of abating. Was he right to withdraw from public view? Should he have indicated how long he intended to remain hidden from contact with the public, focusing on his family? How long can he remain hidden from public view without further eroding whatever goodwill there might still remain for what “Tiger Woods” has come to mean for millions of fans and admirers? Has the withdrawal of some of his sponsors been premature?
Tiger Woods can do nothing about what is already in the past. Assuming that there will not be any more ladies coming out to confess still unknown escapades with him, and given that he has already offered public apologies for his indiscretions, he should now start working at protecting what remains of his integrity and goodwill and regaining the support of fans and sponsors that might be sitting on the fence. Sponsors have invested millions of dollars into the Tiger Woods Brand not for it to remain holed up away from the light. His absence on the field and in public view brings no value to the brands that he’s been paid to endorse. His advisors should tell him that he cannot hide forever. Away from the bright sun, the only associations that risk being forever linked to the Tiger Woods Brand would be negative ones, those of a cheat, a philanderer and of a man who has no respect for women. He needs to come out and start countering those images with positive ones; little by little. Only he can do that. He should return to the field, get involved in visible charity work, and focus on positive things. He will not regain everything that he lost, for sure; but he will gain new friends, fans and sponsors. He has not lost his talent. The Tiger Woods Brand will experience some form of change in the minds of its watchers; whether or not this change is positive depends on the man himself and on how he reacts to what is happening around him