Did Sponsors Who Dumped Tiger Make a Mistake?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tiger Woods' public appearance Friday appeared to have done him more good than harm, paving the road for his successful return to professional golf. In fact, Woods' public expression of remorse to fans, family and business partners garnered a B+ from one crisis communications coach.

"He did many, many things well," T.J. Walker, head of Media Training Worldwide says. "He seemed contrite. He seemed sincere. He hit the right emotional note." Furthermore, Tiger "defanged his attackers because he answered every one of their charges...he said he's completely guilty."

Indeed, one of the first things Tiger declared when he took to the podium was "I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife, Elin, and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say."

"Now when that happens it makes it much harder for people to continue pounding," Walker points out. "You're not going to have confrontation if one side is agreeing."

However, Walker does fault Tiger on his presentation skills, saying that Tiger should have had more eye contact, instead of looking down so frequently. He also feels that Tiger should have gotten rid of the script and lectern.

In terms of press strategy, Walker gives Tiger a C, explaining that he should have made this move much, much earlier -- three months earlier, that is -- and adds that Tiger missed an important opportunity to deflate media intensity over the details of his affairs by not opening the floor for press questions.

Still, the apology generally generated public sympathy. Tiger's slow, thoughtful delivery; his long embrace with friends and family membes at the end of it -- all those aspects were designed to make Tiger appear sincere in his efforts at restoring the public's trust in his character.

And perhaps, even more importantly, Woods outlined for the public specific plans of action to remedy his mistakes, ranging from Buddhism to therapy. "Starting tomorrow," he said, "I will leave for more treatment and more therapy."

Tiger said he's not sure when he's returning to golf, though he hasn't ruled out returning this year.

Despite the uncertainty over the timing of his return to professional golf, Tiger's appearance Friday seemed like a strong enough start to the possibility of a successful return that some observers are wondering whether perhaps corporate sponsors Accenture ( ACN) and AT&T ( T) acted too hastily when they decided to jump the Tiger ship.

Not all of Tiger's sponsors fled. There are, of course, sponsors who have stood resolutely behind Woods, such as Nike ( NKE) and Electronic Arts' ( ERTS).

Others sponsors -- like P&G's ( PG) Gilette and TAG Heuer -- have adopted a compromise position, limiting Tiger's involvement in their marketing campaigns while biding their time. In that camp, arguably, would be PepsiCo ( PEP), which has discontinued its Woods-brand drink, while saying the move had nothing to do with recent events.

In light of Tiger's apology, do you, readers of TheStreet, think corporate sponsors who dropped Tiger Woods made a big mistake? Take the poll below to see the consensus of TheStreet.


In light of Tiger's televised apology last week, which sponsors do you think handled their relationship with the Woods most prudently?

The sponsors that dropped him (Accenture, AT&T)
The sponsors that are hanging out in the shadows (Gillette, Tag Heuer, Gatorade)
The ones that fully backed him (Nike, Electronic Arts)

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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