The ol' Tiger Woods Carbolic Smoke Ball

Years ago I read Vance Packard's "The Hidden Pursuaders". So did millions of others. It took the lid off the Madison Avenue world of advertising and gave us such "new" concepts as "depth marketing" and "motivational research", but it was published over 50 years ago in an age of relative innocence. Perhaps one of the few techniques advertisers have used since Victorian times is the personality endorsement, something that even now is probably one of the most powerful advertising tools after the rather blunt instrument of saturation marketing.

Tiger Woods' sponsorship deals appear to be in free fall since the revelations about his private life and his erratic driving methods. Big names like Rolex, American Express and Nike pay Woods millions of dollars to endorse, wear or otherwise publish their products. He quite reasonably I think, has a deal with the golf club people Titleist. He is not though the highest earning sports star, or the highest earning black sports star; that accolade goes to Michael Jordan, the basketball player, whose earnings from product endorsement dwarfs Woods' mere $24 million.

So, evidently the ad men think these people are worth it. Why? Does anybody really believe that if they buy the same golf clubs/watch/shoes/fizzy drink as Tiger Woods, their life is going to improve - any more, let us say, than touching the bone of a dead saint is going to heal you or expiate your sins? Can Tiger tap a stone and make liquid gold run from the fissures in it? Does he have the power of levitation?

It's all hocus pocus, but people believe in it apparently.



Hamish said...

Weak pun, WW, "pursuaded".

And you surely didn't mean "dwarfs" ("dwarves" perchance).
Even Homer sometimes nods. Doh.

Anonymous said...


can I send you an e-mail regarding an article I think you or we could duff up?

I have just posted one on SubR's blog.

Hope you like that one.

If interested send an e-mail to SubR, as per her blog e-mail and ask her to push it me, either as a forward or a cut and paste?

saatchi said...

I think people just like to be associated with success and winning. If someone they respect endorses a product then they expect it to be of a decent quality. Tiger Woods wouldn't endorse cheap golf clubs or razor blades as it would reflect badly on him and people would have a poorer view of him. A bit like older celebrities in the UK endorsing life insurance companies etc. If the insurance company turns out to be useless then the celebrity is deemed to be of poor judgement and worthless. This is why these endorsements net so much money for celebrities. They are putting their hard earned reputation on the line.
Cheetah will get over this but will have to switch tack and re invent himself. Comfy chat with Oprah, some tears, charity gigs etc.will help to rehabilitate him. It sounds tacky but it will work.

Wrinkled Weasel said...


I am not sure I understand. Send me an email anyway by all means at

magic(fuck off spammers)

without the bit in brackets.

Dave said...

"well he can't be a man 'cos he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me."
Jagger/Richards "Satisfaction"