Tiger Woods – The Consequences of Choice – AT&T Ends Sponsorship

December 31, 2009

Having attended several major golf tournaments, I must say that watching Tiger Woods play golf was like poetry in motion.  He was (is) awesome as a professional golfer.  Most thought he was sweaky clean as well…which is why so many major companies selected Tiger as their spokesperson.  But, as I say in every presentation I make on ethics, EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

As the end of the year and decade draw to a close, AT&T announced that they are ending their business relationship with Tiger Woods.  This announcement adds to a growing list of sponsors who are dropping Woods after his announcement of infidelity and the media storm that has followed.

AT&T has not used Woods’ image extensively in advertising, but its logo appeared on his golf bag. The original sponsorship agreement was billed as a “multi-year” agreement when it was signed early in 2009. Woods has also been the host of the AT&T National PGA Tour event since it started in 2007 and AT&T has said it will continue to sponsor the event.

Accenture, the consulting firm, dropped Tiger several weeks ago, saying he was “no longer the right representative” of the company’s values.  Likewise, Gillette said it won’t air ads for its razors that include Woods or include him in public appearances.  Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer, who initially said they stood by Tiger, eventually stated that they would “downscale” its use of golfer Tiger Woods’ image in its advertising campaigns for the foreseeable future.

CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES – It is said often that you reap what you sow.  Whether we like that comment reality is – it is a fact.  Tiger Woods is now facing what for him is likely the greatest challenge of his life.  No longer will he be defined by the extraordinary talent on the golf course that he has, but he is now challenged with personal life issues that will define a large part of his legacy.

While I am not proud of my past (details here), when the “card” so to speak was pulled from the “house of cards” I had created and I knew that my hidden past was soon to be brought to light – a wise man shared the following with me.  He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake!  The choices you make today will define the life you create in the future and the legacy you leave for your two children.  MAKE THOSE CHOICES WISELY.”

While Tiger Woods will continue to experience the consequences from the choices he has made, he has the opportunity to make different – more empowering choices – and from them he can rise from the ashes and become more than just a great golfer.

QUESTION: What advice would you give Tiger today that could help him?

Tag Heuer joins Accenture, Gilette in dropping Tiger Woods: Every choice has a consequence

December 19, 2009
Every choice has a consequence. That’s a statement I make in every presentation. How true! Tiger Woods, celebrity spokesperson and golf avatar, is now experiencing what that statement means in reality. Accenture recently severed its six-year relationship with the sports star. Now Tag Heuer has removed Woods from its advertising campaigns. Not to mention AT&T, Gilette, and Pepsico.

There is little doubt that each of these companies’ general counsel reviewed its contract with Tiger Woods as regards to his personal behavior — otherwise known as “the morals clause.” The interesting ethical question now is: How could Woods execute the endorsement contracts, knowing there was a morals clause but living a less-than-ethical life off the green?

Now there’s question that Woods’ indiscretions may not just be personal. The other day, news broke that the FBI is investigating one of Woods’ doctors, Dr. Anthony Galea, who was found with human growth hormone in his bag at the U.S.-Canada border in late October. Let’s hope those reports don’t link Woods to further indiscretion.

Whatever happens, certainly, time will heal the open wounds that Woods is now experiencing. And sports enthusiasts will want to see him play golf once again. But I predict his remaining contracts (Nike and Electronic Arts) will either be canceled or lapse over time. The big paydays are likely over.

Every choice has a consequence. For Woods — for all of us. I sure wish Woods had elected a more ethical route. For now, the best I can say is, the choices that Woods makes from this day forward will define the legacy he leaves the golf world and, more importantly, his children.  Tiger, make those choices wisely.

Do you think sponsors were right to drop Tiger Woods? Share your comments here.