Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week: Tiger Woods and Hyundai


Brand Winner…

And Loser…


Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week

Winner:  Tiger Woods


Loser:  Hyundai



Folks, there’s nothing more satisfying than being reminded of marketing’s power as a predictive tool.


Tiger Woods is our winner this week.  And his “winning” is more confirmation of a trend we have watched and been able to predict from his very dark days in 2008.


The New York Times tells the story here.


Here’s the scoop in a nutshell:  Tiger’s back on the playing front and his sponsorship power is growing in lockstep.

Rolex is the latest high profile sponsor to get back on the Tiger wagon and, of course, some of his long-term sponsors, like Nike, wisely never left.


Bottom line, when things were looking bleak for Tiger, the marketing lens told us a different story.  Since Tiger, like all athletes, is a performance brand, the marketing lens showed that if he continued to perform well as a golfer, he would remain strong as a brand.  The reason for this is that while the general public might be forever switched off to Tiger, the general public was never his Target Market.  Golf fans were.  Secondly, many of these fans looked on the scandal differently and were more apt to give him a pass –as long as he continued to perform.


Well, for a while he struggled on the golf course, but even then there were signs that Woods was rebuilding, now this trend seems to be clear.


I wrote what’s below in April, but I’ll repost because I think it fleshes out this idea pretty well:


Schwartzel won the Masters; but it was Tiger Woods’ strong finish that will be seen as a historic turning point.  Woods came back from a big deficit to reach the top of the leader board.  By doing so, he confirmed what I’ve been predicting: the Tiger brand is coming back.

Last summer Tiger surprised everyone by ranking as the most popular athlete in the United States.  What I wrote then looks even more true now:

Bottom line, Tiger Woods is a performance brand. It’s what he does on – not off — the golf course that matters. It’s the same for all athletic brands. If you win, you will be liked (except for those rare cases in which you win but are really, really hard to like).

Tiger might not win every tournament he is in, but in golf no one ever does –so despite what non-golfers might be saying, Tiger really is excelling on the green. The point is consistency, and dogged improvement, which he’s displaying. People who know golf know that Tiger Woods is coming back impressively and much sooner than anyone expected.

The bigger point here is that what matters as a predictor of a sport brand’s ultimate success isn’t the inevitable media uproar –it’s the ability of the performance brand to continue to win and to appeal to his customers and fans.

For Tiger Woods, this means appealing to men between the ages of 18-44 who are sports enthusiasts; enjoy golf; and are more forgiving of male indiscretions even if they’re repugnant. It is this group that is the most important to Tiger and his marketing team. And he hasn’t lost them –not by a long shot.

Many of the public relations people turn to the standard playbook when a crisis like Tiger’s erupts. They seem to think the old mea culpas to everyone must be given and that from some public relations disasters there is simply no recovery

Again, for Tiger and golf stars in general, winning means being consistent. The golf Target Market, its fans and customers, understands that inconsistency is a key factor in this arduous game and that most lose in this sport because they fail at being consistent. Golf is simply different from all other sports and this will continue to work in Tiger’s favor since his legendary consistency is definitely intact.

And now, he’s getting the sponsors and was a key factor in the Americans winning the Australian Open.  Yep, Tiger’s back.



Folks, the Superbowl approaches.  Yes, the Superbowl.  Advertisements are being shot.  Ad dollars are preparing to be wasted.

All of us love the ads, but do they work, are they a wise ad buy for the companies that participate, is there a better way to promote a product or service?

Almost certainly!

Here’s a link to my position and the few times when Superbowl advertisers come close to winning.

The key problems with Superbowl advertising is this: 1) it disregards the law of frequency (i.e., that you need to get your message in front of the consumer multiple times for recognition to happen) and 2) it usually forgets about the Target Market since (the audience for the Superbowl is so huge and diverse that you’re basically getting everybody).

But there is only one thing that makes a Superbowl advertisement even less worthwhile: the corporate feel good spot.

In the corporate feel good spot, the company has decided to do a commercial that makes everyone at the company feel good and forgets completely about any benefits for the company’s customers.

Unfortunately, that is what Hyundai looks to be doing this year.  The fast-growing car company has decided to go the feel-good route and shoot a 60-second spot with hundreds of employees on film.  Here’s the story.

We’ll see what they do.  Maybe if the emphasis is on how the employees support great cars all is not lost, but, frankly, people buy brands, not companies and there are many better ways of spending several million dollars.

And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.


TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY – The test of great marketing is not that it feels good.








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