Tiger Woods is a powerful brand in a perilous place.
All the facts are not yet in -- and might never be in -- but so far, the car crash aside, Tiger has done everything right and his brand should emerge from the crisis just fine.
First and foremost, Tiger is a performance brand. Sure, he’s well known for his philanthropy. Sure, he’s well known for being a family man and fiercely protective of his personal privacy.
But, above all, he is an almost super-human golfer. How he does on the golf course matters the most for his brand. If he keeps doing well, then everything should be fine as long as he follows the Crisis Action Plan (C.A.P.):
4. Be Honest
5.Communicate Plan of Action
So far, Tiger has set the tone for working through the C.A.P. in keeping with his well-known privacy (he can get away with a less-responsive, slower pace because people are used to it). He’s responded, been contrite and taken responsibility all in one short press release. And now we learn that he won't be giving a press conference on Tuesday.
Has he been completely honest? I don’t know, but I do know that the words of his press release on his Web site seem humble and put his wife on a pedestal -- that can do his brand no harm no matter what other facts might emerge.
He hasn’t yet communicated a plan of action. But as long as nothing else comes out, there isn’t a need for one. If the accident is the result of a marital spat, then it is simply an embarrassment, nothing more and everyone will be able to accept that it isn’t really their business. If it was alcohol or drug-related (so far, there's no evidence of that) then a positive plan needs to be put into place. Likewise, if the story snowballs with damaging revelations.
But even if there was some kind of affair -- a big if -- his brand probably won’t be badly damaged.
Tiger is also what you can also call an adult male performance brand. That is, his performance on the golf course is the most important and his performance off the golf course is forgiven by the adult male Target Market who tend to give the star a pass when it comes to what they view as indiscretions.
Not too long ago, another “super-human” performance brand, Michael Phelps was in the hot seat for an indiscretions. He followed C.A.P. and seems to be doing just fine with fans and sponsors alike.
Unless an entirely different, brand-trashing picture emerges, Tiger should also do just fine.
And oh yes, it is always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.