Golfer extrordinaire Tiger Woods had a strange car crash at his home over the holiday weekend. If he doesn’t get the coverage under control, he could quickly be heading for a personal brand crash as well.
Wood’s generally squeaky-clean image is under assault as a result of his refusal to explain the incident. As a result, the media is spinning with wild conjecture – was he drinking? Hot dogging? Just not paying attention? Was this the result of a fight with his wife? Why would he be fighting with his wife? Is he having an affair? Were his injuries a result of the accident or inflicted ahead of time by his wife as a result of the fight??!?
Woods is trying to maintain some privacy. There is no doubt the incident is embarrassing, but unfortunately, the communications approach he’s taking by not talking about what happened is perhaps the worst available to him.
Woods needs to approach this situation as a “brand Tiger” question rather than as a personal intrusion. Those endorsement deals with Buick and Tag Heuer are with the Tiger brand. If he wants to protect those endorsement agreements, then he should get out in front of the story, and tell everything to defuse the situation.
In fact, he may want to take a few pointers from David Letterman, who’s own handling of a personal brand crisis I blogged about recently. By laying the information on the table and taking responsibility for what happened, Letterman killed the ongoing story. As details dribble out one at a time, backed up with a lot of media imagination, brand Tiger could get dragged through the mud for months.
And coincidentally, does anyone know if he had the accident in a Buick Rendezvous?