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Tiger: Getting (and Giving) the Benefit of the Doubt

Posted on | December 7, 2009 | No Comments

By Robert Passikoff

In “When a Human Brands Bogies” last Tuesday we noted, “[sic Tiger] Woods as super-athlete cum Human Brand, resonates with values that sports fans and non-sports fan adore: skill, planning prowess, the ability to get of out of sand traps with a single stroke. PR traps, too. These values -beyond his ability to win and his status as the first billion-dollar athlete in the history of the world – create a loyalty bond that’s second to none. And when you engender loyalty like that, people are six times more likely to give the brand (in this case The Human Brand, Woods) the benefit of the doubt.”

Today, Nike, Woods’ largest sponsor announced that its advertising plans involving him would not be altered by Mr. Woods’ “transgressions.” In a statement, Nike said, ” Tiger and his family have Nike’s full support. We respect Tiger’s request for privacy and out thoughts are with Tiger and his family at this time.”

“Sponsor expedience,” you say? That’s as well may be. But had the company an iota of evidence that the “transgression” was appreciably affecting company image and sales, they’d dump him as fast as a golfer scraps a driver with a cracked shaft!

Loyalty isn’t capricious. It’s palpable, especially as it regards sales and situations where the brand requires the benefit of the doubt. It’s far more emotional than rational, which is why virtually 100% of people asked if Tiger’s behavior was acceptable, would tell you “no,” and why that same 100% are willing to forgive his indiscretions. Which is why his biggest sponsors – along with his fans – have reaffirmed their support for him.

Here’s a marketing truth: Loyalty is always accompanied by positive consumer behavior and sales, and consumers willing to buy more, recommend more, rebuff competitive offers, and even invest in publicly traded companies. And sometimes it comes with a metaphorical ‘Get Out of Jail Card.”

But here’s another marketing truth: engendering that level of loyalty doesn’t happen by chance.
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Robert Passikoff is founder of Brand Keys Inc. (New York), a brand and customer loyalty consultancy. He can be reached at 212-532-6028, x12, or robertp@brandkeys.com.

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