An international consulting company has become the first corporation to completely sever its relationship with Tiger Woods after revelations of his marital infidelity became front-page news in the wake of a fateful one-car crash Thanksgiving night.
“After careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising,” Accenture, which claimed $23.3 billion in revenue the last fiscal year, said in a statement on Sunday.
“We are disappointed but respect their decision. That is all I have to say to you,” Mark Steinberg, an agent for Woods, wrote in an e-mail to the Wall Street Journal.
Woods made an estimated $110 million a year in endorsements, and Accenture, which provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services, was among the most closely associated with him. Companies have had a range of reactions to the news of his infidelity.
Gillette began downplaying its relationship with Woods by indefinitely suspending Woods-related advertising starting on Saturday, while AT&T and the Tag Heuer watch manufacturer have both said they are reconsidering their connections to the athlete. Nike, Electronic Arts and Gatorade have said they fully stand by Woods.
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Accenture relied heavily on Woods in its advertising and even internal materials, according to a former employee. He had been the centerpiece of its marketing in a relationship that lasted six years. It’s expected to begin a new advertising campaign as soon as possible, starting in 2010.
“If you asked anyone at any company two months ago who was the cleanest, safest athlete in the world, most people would have said Tiger Woods, and an ad manager would have been roundly applauded for getting Woods,” Richard Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University, told the Los Angeles Times.