V Krishnaswamy in Orlando, Florida
Orlando, Florida, US, December 2: Tiger Woods in his most significant and high-profile deal in recent years has signed up as the, Global Corporate Partner, an euphemism for Brand Ambassador with Hero MotoCorp, one of India’s biggest corporates and the World’s No. 1 two-wheeler manufacturer. It is the first an Indian corporate has signed up as big a non-Indian global star as Woods.
Pawan Munjal, Managing Director, Hero Motocorp announced the deal at a superb setting on Lake Tibet at the house of another golfer, Daniel Chopra, who is also a Brand Ambassador of Hero.
The exact value of the deal was not disclosed, but industry estimates suggest that it could in the region of US $ 30-35 million over a period of four years, which is in tune with reported endorsement deals of about $ 40m for five year periods in the past for Woods.
The partnership comes close on the heels of Hero MotoCorp taking on the title sponsorship of Hero World Challenge, an elite 18-man event that is hosted by Woods and carries a purse of US $ 3.5 million. The World Challenge, now in its 16th year, has raised more than $ 25m in charity for Tiger Woods Foundation is said to have been one of the things that has impressed Munjal and Hero, apart from the global appeal for the most successful golfer of our times.
Known to be a keen golfer and a regular visitor to the world’s biggest events like the Masters and the British Open, Munjal was introduced to Woods at a golf course during a Tavistock Cup event. Munjal said, “We have gone beyond the Hero World Challenge and we will also have Tiger Woods as our Global Corporate Partner for the next four years starting from December 1, that is today. It is an endorsement deal with Tiger Woods in which he will not only be partnering but also promoting Hero as a brand across the globe.
“It is not just for the US market, but is global. For me, Tiger personifies energy, perseverance, competitiveness, the will to excel and the will to be the best in whatever he does.”
Munjal went on to add, “I am very proud of this; of what we are doing as an Indian corporate and I believe that the whole of the Indian nation is proud of what we are doing at Hero and for sports.”
But he was cautious on the question of whether Woods would feature at the Hero Indian Open, the oldest running professional tournament in India since 1964. He smiled and said, “The deal does not mean he has to take part in every Indian Open, but it is open-ended. It is after all the Indian Open.” He was clearly punning on the word ‘Open’ and left the possibility wide open.
About Tiger’s past personal problems, which derailed his career in 2009, Munjal was clear in his vision and said, "We are absolutely thrilled to be in a partnership with Tiger. Hero and Tiger together represent the best in our respective professions. Whatever had happened is now all behind him. He went public, apologised for what happened and he is now back in the game. People are back with him, corporates are back with him...and obviously Hero took a very conscious call."
He added, “Tiger’s appeal cuts across geographies, nationalities, age and gender and we feel he is the best fit to be our Brand Ambassador.”
Woods was the world’s highest paid athlete in the world since 2001. He had a string of big ticket endorsement deals. But post his personal travails in 2009 and the loss of form and a drop in rankings he is reportedly estimated to have lost more $50 million in annual earnings due to deals being terminated or not being renewed. But over the past couple of years the deals seem to be picking up once again, with Rolex in 2011 and now Hero being the big ones in the recent past.
Hero joins Woods’ current sponsors, which as per his website, www.tigerwoods.com, are Kowa, a Japanese company, engaged in various business fields including trading of textiles, machinery, construction materials, pharma and optical devices; MusclePharm, a sports nutrition brand; NetJets, who specialise in fractional aircraft ownership; Nike; Rolex; Upper Deck, a provider of sports collectibles and pioneer of autograph authentication; and Tatweer, a Dubai-based real estate company. Woods’ tigerwoods.com also has a content exchange partnership with PGATour.com