Tiger's Sponsors Stick With Him for Now

Gatorade says decision to drop "Focus" drink line was made months ago.

ByABC News
December 8, 2009, 10:49 AM

Dec. 9, 2009 — -- Tiger Woods may be on shaky ground with his wife and fans, but so far, his corporate sponsors seem to be sticking by him.

Companies from Gillette to Golf Digest and NetJets have all said this week they will continue using Woods to promote their goods, even as allegations of sexual dalliances swirled around him.

"Tiger Woods is one of the premiere athletes in the world and we are proud to have him involved with NetJets," said David Sokol, chairman and CEO of NetJets, which sells private planes.

Other sponsors, including Nike and the video game maker Electronic Arts,said last week they would stand by the star but did not respond to ABC News requests for comment Tuesday.

The only company to have dropped an endorsement is Gatorade, which said it will discontinue its "Gatorade Tiger Focus" line. Gatorade reportedly asserts that the decision was made several months ago, though, and, in fact, a beverage magazine published the news days before any allegations of extramarital affairs were made.

Marketers are waiting to see if any companies will change their endorsements directly in response to the scandal.

Tiger Woods' image as a family man has been tarnished in the past two weeks, following reports that he had extramarital affairs with at least nine women, including a porn star and a cocktail waitress. The stories began Nov. 27, when Woods drove into a fire hydrantt outside his home in Windermere, Fla., possibly after an argument with his wife,Elin Nordegren

Retailers wonder if fans of Woods are now thinking twice about buying his autographs and branded golf shirts.

"People are nervous about paying $1,000 for his signatures because their value might go down," said Mike Gallucci, vice president of operations at SportMemorabilia.com, a large vendor of sporting souvenirs. He said sales of Tiger Woods photos, pinflags and clubs have dropped by almost half.

"Around Christmas, you get a lot of parents buying for their kids, and if they don't view the athlete as a role model their purchases go down."