Woods' situation demonstrates how damaging ethical lapses can be when an individual is his own brand. Woods remains, as Nike called him, "one of the greatest athletes of his generation," and his alleged indiscretions had nothing to do with his golf game. If Woods' endorsement used to entice golfers to buy particular brands of sporting equipment in the hope of improving their games, his off-the-course escapades theoretically shouldn't make much difference. But to the extent that Woods' endorsement was valuable because he seemed like an especially likeable guy, the revelations of the past two weeks must have done his brand serious damage.
Accenture sells business consulting services, not golf shoes. No wonder it was the first of Woods' sponsors to dump a representative whose judgment suddenly seemed questionable at best.
Can Tiger Woods make a comeback? Perhaps, if he makes an effective apology, first to his family and then to his fans and sponsors. In my last article, "Effective Business Apologies: The Innovators," I described the six essential elements of an effective business apology. Woods already has completed the first two elements: He said he's sorry, and he has taken responsibility for his mistakes. Now, he needs to make amends.