2006: Buick - Attracting a younger crowd

Buick, the General Motors subsidiary and a longtime sponsor of professional golf, signed Woods in 2000. But the marriage seemed odd, considering Tiger’s young, fresh vibe clashed with the car company’s staid image.

“His first reaction was that Buick was for old people, and he wasn’t really interested,” recalls Larry Peck, Buick’s golf marketing manager. But once Buick presented its new portfolio of vehicles to the young star, Woods became engaged and eventually decided he could help make the brand appeal to a younger generation.

Many remember his first assignment to be the “face” of the then-new Rendezvous, an SUV-type vehicle that was unlike anything Buick had manufactured. But his mission was, in fact, far more significant. At the time, marketing research revealed the average age of a Buick consumer was 65, which didn’t bode well for the company’s future.

Tiger was charged with lowering that age and did he ever: Within a few years, his association with the brand helped lower the average to 55,a 10-year drop that Peck describes as “astounding.”

That explains why Buick recently renewed Woods’ initial contract for another five years. In the coming years, Buick expects Tiger – now in his 30s, married and likely headed for parenthood – will resonate even more with fellow thirtysomethings, whom Buick plans to target aggressively with a succession of new models. Leading off this initiative is the Lucerne sedan and a promotion involving Woods: Whenever he wins a PGA Tour event, he will give the Lucerne he drives to the tournament to a lucky contestant.

“You couldn’t expect Tiger would reinvent (Buick) overnight,” says Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

“But he’s certainly been a big part of it.”

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