Just Did It
April 18, 2019
This past weekend, Tiger Woods secured arguably the greatest comeback in the history of sports by winning his fifth green jacket at Augusta National (and his first major championship in 11 years). But Tiger wasn’t the only one with cause to celebrate while sporting his usual Sunday red adorned with the transcendent Nike swoosh — his longtime sponsor was cashing in as well.
While other big brands such as AT&T, Gatorade, General Motors and Gillette dropped Tiger after a headline-grabbing sex scandal and an injury-plagued decade left him winless, Nike’s years-long bet on him has finally paid off. On Sunday alone, it was estimated Tiger earned Nike more than $22 million in exposure. Compare that with last year’s champ, fellow Nike athlete Patrick Reed, who brought in a paltry $12 million.
Nike capitalized on the historic win by promptly releasing a widely praised, and even more widely viewed, video reminding consumers Nike was behind Tiger through the highs and the lows, while many brands (and many fans) weren’t.
So at a time when the bar for celebrity status has never been lower, with everyone from reality TV personalities and Instagram influencers hawking major brands, is a big-name celebrity endorsement still worth the multi-million dollar investment?
The research seems to show that it is.
A recently published study found Tiger’s endorsement earned Nike approximately 57 percent of their $181 million in U.S. golf ball sales alone. Once you factor in sales of Nike-branded clubs, bags, shoes, hats, and any other piece of equipment deemed critical to lowering your handicap by a stroke or two during that time frame, the return on Nike’s investment is clear.
These days, celebrity endorsements aren’t just about convincing consumers where they should spend their dollars, they’re also about encouraging us where to cast our vote. Presidential candidate and rising Democratic star Beto O’Rourke elevated his long-shot Senatorial campaign to a serious contender with the help of endorsements from the likes of Beyoncé and LaBron James in his ultimately unsuccessful challenge against incumbent Ted Cruz.
Stars are already pledging allegiances for their favorite 2020 candidates. And while it may still be early, you’ll be sure to see more household names stumping for their chosen candidates in the coming year.
All this to say: the celebrity endorsement game is good work if you can get it, and the investment is proving it can pay off for brands. I, unfortunately, can’t get it. Good news for my legions of fans on the Grisko blog as I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
April 18, 2019