Monday, August 08, 2016
Nike to End Golf Business
Nike recently announced it will close down its extensive line of golf-related merchandise and apparel, and folks are already blaming Tiger Woods. But the real culprit is in the Not So Fine Print. Bottom line, fewer people are playing golf, and sales just aren’t what they used to be.
That fact, coupled with fierce competition from upstart rivals like Under Armour, who has been successful in capturing endorsements of top young stars in the game, and perennial challenges from longtime top golf brands with generations of followers meant Nike was losing ground and not likely to catch up.
That’s not to say Tiger’s fall from the good graces of golf fans didn’t have something to do with it. Remember, Nike tied its entire development of its golf line to Tiger. He was, head to toe, a walking Nike billboard, sharing commercial time and being directly connected to Nike’s previous golden boy, Michael Jordan.
The Jumpman and the Tiger both went over big for Nike. Where Jordan single-handedly reinvented the basketball shoe, Tiger was a one man merchandising bonanza for Nike, allowing the brand to achieve top tier status in a meteoric rise from literally no representation, to merch in pretty much every sporting goods store and pro shop in the nation.
Then came Tiger’s fall. A messy breakup with his wife, followed by revelations of multiple, protracted and habitual affairs, pulled Tiger’s star from the golf galaxy. He made a much-ballyhooed comeback, but injuries and age held him back. He won, sure, but Tiger wasn’t TIGER anymore. Kids weren’t looking up to him as much, and there were other young, exciting faces in the game to emulate and idolize. Tiger, as impossible as it may seem - and still does - became just another face in the crowd of those who almost always qualify for the Big Ones.
But he didn’t produce, and, slowly, Nike realized it was backing a “used to be.” Fans were no longer on the edge of their seats waiting for Woods to bomb a drive clear across the course or drop a put from an impossible distance. They were sitting ‘round their TVs or in the galleries telling “remember when” stories.
While it’s true golf sales overall have fallen nearly ten percent, it’s ALSO true, according to ESPN, that a Nike-sponsored golfer hasn’t won a major in the last eight tries. Remember when Tiger was winning all of them?
Yep. We “remember when…”
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.