Exclusive: Q&A with Tiger's agent Mark Steinberg
Tiger Woods' signing with Rolex, announced Oct. 5, marked the first major endorsement deal for the former No. 1 in two years (click here for the full story). It also indicated that other marketers might resume business with Woods, possibly helping him rebuild his endorsement portfolio that once netted him nearly $100 million annually.
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Following Rolex's announcement, Golfweek's Jeff Rude spoke with Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management, and discussed the prospect of Woods becoming a marketing icon once again.
How did the Rolex deal come about?
“I’ve had a good relationship with the executives at Rolex for years. . . . They are arguably the most vested non-endemic company in the sport of golf. You look at the fact that they’re involved with the PGA Tour, with the European Tour, with the Asian Tour, with Augusta, with the USGA, with the R&A, with the AJGA. They’re very deep.
“When you think of Rolex you think of history and tradition, and Tiger has a chance to embark on a very historical run here, and I just thought it would make sense for Tiger to kind of go back home. He was with Rolex before. . . he was with Rolex under the Tudor brand.”
What were obstacles of doing that deal?
"I wouldn’t say there were obstacles. We had a mutual discussion. They wanted to make sure Tiger was incredibly vested in the company and that he really viewed this as a partnership. And he does. . . . They said, 'Look, we might ask you to do a testimonial or TV commercial, but if we need you to come to a dinner for something, we’d like you to come to a dinner.' It’s that type of a relationship where it really needs to be about partnership and family.”
Where’s his marketability now? Is this a sign that it might be coming back?
“I sure think it’s a sign that it’s coming back. I think I have an opportunity to make, I can’t say when, but an announcement in the near future about the golf bag.”
But the bag thing is close, by the end of the year?
Is Fry’s Electronics in play as another endorsement possibility?
“I’m talking with John Fry about continuing something with Tiger. We haven’t really delved too far into it.”
How much is winning linked to Tiger's marketability?
“Winning is a pretty important component, but I’ve seen it change with increased interest in his marketability without his winning yet.”
Why do you think that is?
“Just that the past is completely behind him. Time heals and people want to see this unbelievable comeback redemption story.”
What are objections and hurdles Tiger's facing from the corporate world?
“Like I said, we’re on a nice upswing right now. Now it’s finding the right partners, the interesting deals, deals that will enhance him and his brand.”
What type of deals, companies and product categories are you looking for?
“We’re not going to do a plethora of deals. We’re going to be very selective. We always have been. . . . We announced Rolex. As I said, I think we’re going to announce a bag deal. Maybe there’s one other, for the time being. I’m open to categories that aren’t currently occupied, meaning he’s not conflicted in that space, whether it’s cellular, whether it’s consumer electronics, whether it’s automotive. It’s about being with the right company.”