Friday, December 11, 2009

Applying Daly Tiger balm

Ever used that Chinese Tiger balm ointment? When it first touches your skin, its hardly noticeable and then it just gets hotter. A lot in common with another Tiger don't you think? A few people have emerged recently who might be able to compare. But my purpose is not to heap more misery on the guy. I am more interested how his brand ended up where it has.

The Tiger Woods brand has shrunk in stature nearly as much as John Daly. The trouble is the shrinkage has been caused by personal indulgence rather than the recent abstinence practiced by his colleague. As I think about this, there are interesting observations you can make. On the one hand, we have a guy with a carefully cultivated public image - more carefully than we realised. On the other, a deeply flawed character who has not pretended to be anything else.

I think image management prior to the recent revelations has been as big a contributor to the brand damage wrought on Tiger Woods as the recent revelations. I won't go as far as to say I defy anyone to live up to the manicured image that was Tiger Woods pre-roadside incident. There would be some monks and others who might be able to, although even that is doubtful. But a guy who my wife says is 'gorgeous', loaded with dough and presented with countless temptations faces a fair few challenges in living up to that image.

By comparison, John Daly almost swaggered through booze, drugs, women and gambling and most people felt sorry for him. Some even identified with his flaws. My wife doesn't find him attractive. Many went to watch him play in case he did 'lose it' on the golf course - precisely the opposite reason for tailing  the Tiger.

So while people admire the way Daly appears to be winning a lifelong battle with his inner demons, millions are disappointed in the way in which Tiger Woods has failed to be 'true to brand'. And that is where the problem lies, particularly for prodigies like Tiger Woods who blossom young. Yes, he's had affairs and is dealing with the domestic fallout from that. But I believe that he is really also the victim of some really bad advice. And that advice was probably all around 'just doing golf'' and not doing anything that might offend any potential demographic, psychographic or sponsor.

That's virtually impossible advice to live up to for any young bloke. When the inevitable character flaws emerge in the years ahead, it leaves the brand with no reserve of public understanding to draw on. Perhaps he could get a loan from the place where the Daly brand has built its reserves and just bring the real persona back to the golf course.

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