Orlando, Florida. Tiger Woods is no longer the world’s top endorsement moneyspinner, but the golf star’s backing remains solid enough to land a four-year deal announced Tuesday with India’s Hero MotoCorp.
The world’s largest maker of motorcycles and scooters with 6.3 million sold in the 2013-14 business year will reply upon Woods as a pitchman as it tries to expand its brand globally, into Europe late next year and the United States in 2016.
“It gives me extreme pleasure and pride to associate our brand with Tiger Woods,” said Pawan Munjal, Hero’s chief executive officer. “We believe Tiger’s brand, Tiger’s recognition, Tiger’s attributes will also lift and make the brand Hero as recognizable as Tiger.”
Woods, a former world number one and 14-time major champion, was the world’s highest-paid athlete from 2001 to 2011 according to Forbes magazine, based largely on his endorsement deals.
But in 2009, at the same Isleworth gated community where the Hero World Challenge tees off Thursday, a traffic accident involving Woods set off a chain of events that unveiled Woods’ secret sex life with multiple mistresses. That would lead to his divorce from wife Elin and the destruction of his once-perfect image as a corporate endorser, several firms dropping him in the wake of the sex scandal.
Since then, Woods has rebuilt his brand name with such backers as Nike standing beside him. Last June, in the latest Forbes rankings, Woods ranked sixth in athlete income with $61.2 million, 90 percent of it from endorsements.
Munjal calls Woods “an icon for millions around the world” and adds, “He is indeed a phenomenon, a symbol of humility in victory and grace in adversity. An achiever par excellence, Tiger’s appeal and charisma spans across continents cutting through barriers of geography, age, language and nationalities.”
Woods met Munjal at Isleworth at a dinner following the Tavistock Cup, a showdown between private country club teams of golf stars. That led to Woods playing at Delhi GolfClub and to the latest partnership, which benefits Woods’ charity foundation that supports youth educational opportunities.
“To have the type of reception that we had there was absolutely phenomenal,” Woods said. “I don’t think any of us expected it to be quite like that.
“For that to transition where we are now, where we’re partners and for his company to be part of our foundation and what we’re trying to do for kids, it is just tremendous. And I’m excited personally.”
Woods said that while he will not be playing at next February’s India Open, he might someday appear at the Hero-backed event.
“It’s an option going forward, yes,” Woods said.
Munjal emphasized uniting his firm’s brand with the proven success of Woods, who makes a comeback from injury this week as he chases the record 18 majors titles won by Jack Nicklaus.
“It’s all about quality,” he said. “Going for the topmost quality in whatever we do, I think that’s the biggest synergy.”
Woods is trying to broaden the global reach of his learning centers and charity foundation as well.
“I think it’s quality and excellent and growth,” Woods said of the deal’s benefits.