After six years, Accenture ends sponsorship of Woods

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 14, 2009

Two days after Tiger Woods admitted to marital infidelity and began an "indefinite break" from professional golf, consulting and technology giant Accenture ended its relationship with him, the first major sponsor to completely sever ties with one of the world's best-known athletes following the damaging revelations about Woods's personal life.

Accenture had used Woods in print and television ads for the past six years, leveraging Woods's image as a diligent, determined athlete who sought perfection. Accenture's ads using Woods were particularly prevalent in airports, aimed at business travelers.

"For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture's advertising," the company said in a statement Sunday. "However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising."

A company spokesman declined to expand on the statement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Woods appeared in ads for Accenture in 27 countries. He was removed from the company's Web site late last week.

Accenture becomes the most significant company to drop Woods since his single-car accident early on the morning of Nov. 27 outside his Isleworth community home in Windermere, Fla. That accident helped spur a wave of reports that identified various women who claimed to be mistresses of Woods, who has been married to Elin Nordegren for five years. Woods and Nordegren have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son together.

Woods, who has not spoken publicly since the accident, eventually admitted to "transgressions" in a statement on his Web site. But as women continued to come forward, he made the dramatic step Friday to say he would take a leave from golf, admitting to infidelity for the first time and saying he had to turn his attention to "being a better husband, father and person."

On Friday, Nike, the company with which Woods is perhaps most closely identified, said it supported Woods's decision to step away from the game. EA Sports, the video-game maker that uses Woods on the cover of its golf game, said its relationship with Woods remains "unchanged."

But on Saturday, Gillette -- which used Woods in ads for shaving cream and razors -- said it would discontinue using Woods in such ads, though it did not formally sever ties with the golfer. Woods continued to appear alongside tennis legend Roger Federer on Gillette's Web site Sunday. A company spokesman likened Gillette's position to taking a "timeout," just as Woods was taking a timeout from his golf career.

Accenture, though, will no longer use Woods at all.

"The company will immediately transition to a new advertising campaign, with a major effort scheduled to launch later in 2010," the statement said.

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