Posts Tagged ‘tiger woods’

Pop Tarts and Coronets : How brands find rebirth in the Now! Economy

Do we worship celebrities? Maybe. A while ago, a smart wag who was looking for a quick column inch to help promote a book identified a psychological condition: Celebrity Worship Syndrome. An unfortunate malady has developed from this type of homage.  
Certainly brands seek the endorsement of the gods of sport and entertainment, and over the years major brands have enjoyed the fruits of their investment. But the Now Economy age is challenging our appetite for the celebrity deity. Yesterday, Nike distanced itself from its iconic Blade Runner charge, Oscar Pistorius. His alleged crime, framed by an OJ Simpson-style court room soap opera, was perhaps a tragic reality moment too far.  

Roping in celebrities, then giving them whopping amounts of money so the target customer associates himself with their products, is now under the microscope as never before.  Some onlookers argue that it has lead to greater brand risk. The Tiger Woods meltdown is a stain and Lance Armstrong is a shocking historical footnote; but neither dropped the brand into a sewer of disrepute. Instead brands just seek a shinier version to replace the shattered and defamed icon.

Will the likes of Gillette or Nike stop embracing celebrities? I doubt it, but the process of choosing personalities will become more scrupulous and the potential benefits derived from endorsements will encounter tougher inspection. 
The pressure loaded upon celebrities is a matter of brutal fact. Thrust into a harsh spot light, the lustful crowd feasts upon and then shares failure. The spectacle is a microwaved  morsel inside a 24 minute news cycle; fleeting and inconsequential. Brands are naturally cautious when employing a celebrity, and by acting fast and making appropriate silences to distance themselves from a downturn, they are swiftly able to offer up a new hero to bear the yoke of burden. For a price.
The media may use a calamity to produce lurid headlines suggesting a meltdown.  But the facts are clear: recent sports star crises might herald brand obituarists to reach for the quill, but it’s nothing more than rhetoric. The storm rises, the storm passes. The subsequent calm creates a happy opportunity for an agency to launch a bright, new, shining opportunity. The crowd sighs and faces a fresh champion served on a golden podium to be toasted by cheap champagne. The spin cycle of sporting heroes continues.

The Borkowski Blog 2010 Review

It’s nearly Christmas, the snow lies heavy on much of Britain in astonishingly traditional fashion, causing less astonishing but no less traditional mayhem, chaos and panic. But, given the last year, one can almost understand why there is panic. The weather may hark back to the past but the world moves on into the future at an astonishing rate.

This has, without doubt, been an extraordinary, tumultuous year, a year in which the cliché of the water cooler moment has been reinvented time and time again by a clamouring horde of news stories, each more consuming and captivating than the last. Read the rest of this entry »

Starless in Hollywood

I’ve been travelling around California for the last 10 days, taking in the sights and sounds and meeting people on a research trip for a book on the ways that sexuality has been used to create fame. Hollywood is a spawning ground for media whores, after all. I thought I’d be taking time out of blogging, but there are three celebrity stories subsuming the news in the USA at the moment and I could not let them pass as, even by my own standards of morbid interest, the American news coverage of Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson and Rachel Uchitel’s latest shenanigans is overkill.

Mel Gibson’s everywhere, in stories relating to the tapes that are allegedly of him violently, angrily haranguing the mother of his youngest child, Oksana Grigorieva, in racist, sexist and vulgar terms. It smacks of a put-up job to me, but it’s a story that will run and run.

Lindsay Lohan, in case you missed it, is also in trouble, serving ninety days in jail for drink-driving offences. If you were judging by the amount of comment and analysis the story’s getting, you’d expect her to have been found guilty of triggering an unprovoked nuclear attack on the Falkland Islands or something similar. Not that Lohan will serve her time – the latest reports suggest that she could serve as little as nine days “because of overcrowding”. Read the rest of this entry »

Mawkish Genius: Tiger In the Nike Psychiatrist’s Chair

The Independent have published a piece by me on Tiger Woods and the new, daring Nike advert he appears in. Here’s an excerpt:

“Through all of Tiger Woods’ scandals, Nike have stayed with him. Other sponsors disappeared, but when he made his big apology, they were sitting in the front row. And now they’re taking their pound of flesh. It may be mawkish, and a bit dark, but he wouldn’t be doing it if he wasn’t comfortable with it – and there’s no question that this is a piece of advertising genius.

“As this saga has developed we’ve watched Tiger casting himself upon the mercy of the cameras – a kind of therapy in the public eye. This continues that theme. It’s like it’s from In The Psychiatrist’s Chair. But it’s not what anyone would have expected.”

To read the full article, click here

Advertising Therapy: Nike and Tiger Woods

You wait all week for a good publicity conversation generator that is not related to the general election – and then an astonishing one pops up, in the shape of Nike’s Tiger Woods tour de force.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brand and Woods: The Celebrity Rollercoaster

Another week of charting the ups and downs of celebrity, first in the Guardian, discussing the rise, fall and rapid rise again of Russell Brand, who has risen phoenix-like out of the ashes of Sachsgate to find himself on the verge of international stardom. You can read the full article here, but here’s my note of caution:

“But will he stay the course? ‘Very difficult to predict,’ says the publicist and historian of celebrity Mark Borkowski. ‘He’s had a huge amount of American fame in a very short space of time. But standup comics from the UK don’t have a good track record – not many succeed. And tucked away somewhere on his torso is a self-destruct button. America is still very small-c conservative. There is,’ Borkowski adds, ‘still time for him to mess it up.’

Talking of messing things up, I was asked to comment the effect of Tiger Woods’ meltdown on the brands that have supported him over the years. According to Paul J Davies’s article, When star power finds the rough (Financial Times, April 7th): “…the stock market value of all the companies endorsed by Mr Woods collectively lost $5bn-$12bn by the middle of December [last year].” Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry Seems Not to Be the Hardest Word!

Well, dip me in honey and feed me to the bees – Tiger Woods said sorry! He actually said sorry! It is fair to say that I am eating my hat as I type this. I honestly didn’t expect an apology at all, as anyone who read yesterday’s blog will know.

Today’s media happening, although strictly controlled and rather mawkish, was only one tiny step on the road to recovery, however. It was full of the sort of therapy baloney, strictly for US consumption, that will sit well with the Oprah generation; Tiger wants “to find a place in your heart”.

That said, Tiger has brought the word sorry back into play when it was least expected, so perhaps he can do it. His step looks steadier now. If he wins his next tournament, then the dalliances will be a distant, blurry memory. But, as I wrote yesterday, if Tiger gets caught again, not even the most abject of apologies will save him.

UPDATE: The Independent asked for my opinion on Tiger’s apology – to read the article, click here.


The blogs I’ve been posting over the last few days have stirred up a certain amount of comment – the one on Tiger Woods has even spread as far afield as India, as this article on the India Today website shows.

The blog discussing the debate I participated in on Monday has stirred up some comment too – there’s also a blog from the chair of the event, Trevor Morris, comparing Max Clifford to Marmite, which is well worth a read. It’s on director general of the PRCA Francis Ingham’s blog. Click here to find out more.

Tiger: Out of the Woods?

Tiger Woods is preparing his comeback and the first step on his road to recovery is taking place tomorrow. It’s not clear what the event tomorrow morning is, other than it isn’t a press conference. Many are suggesting that it will be a day of apologies. I’m not convinced. It may be speculation, a leap in the dark, but I would suggest that this tenebrous public outing, in the presence of a few yes men, is aimed at helping Tiger take back control of his life.

If he is setting out to refocus the world’s attention on Tiger the golfer rather than Tiger the philanderer, he is unlikely to want to apologise for the very thing he wants to avoid. It also helps to remember that the current trend is for not saying sorry at all. Mel Gibson didn’t, David Letterman didn’t, Beckham didn’t, Blair didn’t. So why should Tiger Woods be any different? I think that, tomorrow, Tiger will set about redefining the word sorry. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity, Brands and Risk

I’m taking part in a couple of debates in the next few days. First up is Risky Business: Risk and Reputation, an early morning debate on the nature of risk, this Thursday, February 11th, at the Cass Business School. Given the year just gone and the way the financial crisis has played out, it should be an interesting and possibly heated debate Read the rest of this entry »