Upper Deck sticking by Woods

Upper Deck trading cards featuring Tiger Woods.

Upper Deck trading cards featuring Tiger Woods.

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MILWAUKEE – Sports card and memorabilia maker Upper Deck Co. said Tuesday it will continue its relationship with Tiger Woods.

The company, and its Upper Deck Authenticated collectibles division, said the two “look forward to his eventual return to the PGA Tour.”

Upper Deck CEO Richard McWilliam said in a statement the athlete and his family have the company’s full support.

Reader poll

When will Tiger Woods return to the PGA Tour?

  • San Diego Open (Jan. 28-31) 2%
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational (March 25-28) 25%
  • Masters (April 8-11) 20%
  • U.S. Open (June 17-20) 10%
  • After the U.S. Open 5%
  • He will not return in 2010 38%

2218 total votes.

Woods announced late last week he was taking an indefinite leave from public life and golf while he works to fix his marriage after multiple allegations of infidelity.

Since then, Woods’ sponsors have been weighing their options as the media firestorm surrounding Woods continues. Companies use celebrity endorsements to sell products and boost their image. But the propositions can be risky and expensive if a celebrity falls from grace.

According to new figures released Tuesday from TNS Media Intelligence, Woods’ top six sponsors have spent about $79.3 million on ads featuring Woods or his name through October this year.

Woods has been Upper Deck’s exclusive golf spokesman and autograph signer since 2001. The company declined to comment on the length or value of the contract.

The company, which is based in Carlsbad, Calif., sells everything from thousand-dollar autographed pictures of Woods to original artwork and autographed shoes.

It has not had a golf trading card set since 2005, but spokesman Terry Melia said sometimes Upper Deck includes single cards of Woods, along with other celebrities and stars, in baseball card launches.

Major sponsor Accenture dropped Woods on Sunday, saying he no longer fits with the company’s image. The consulting firm had banked heavily on the golfer to push its attributes of perfection and integrity.

According to TNS, Accenture included Woods’ name or image in 83 percent of its advertising spending from January through October, for a total of $31 million. That marked the biggest percentage of a company’s ad budget, out of Woods’ main sponsors.

Other sponsors including Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer and AT&T have said they’re examining their relationship with Woods. According to TNS, Tag Heuer spent 23 percent of its advertising money on ads with Woods, for a total of $953,000. Figures for AT&T weren’t available.

Gillette, a unit of Procter & Gamble, announced Saturday it would not air ads featuring Woods. The grooming products brand did not say when and under what conditions it would resume airing them. According to TNS, 9 percent of the brand’s advertising through October this year included Woods, for a total value of $14.3 million.

Besides Upper Deck, other companies that have said they stand by Woods include Nike Inc. and Electronic Arts, which both spent under $4 million on ads with Woods, or less than 5 percent of their ad spending. PepsiCo Inc.’s Gatorade is also saying it supports Woods. The brand spent $26.2 million on ads with him through October, or about 23 percent of its total advertising spending.

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