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What’s the best endorsement deal – Tiger vs. Rory?

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have received massive attention in the media the past year. After a year, where he has reinforced his position as no. 1 in the World, McIlroy has also seen his name mentioned in the news in relation to a $250 mio. endorsement deal with Nike – are we talking about following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods? Such a deal will account for the biggest endorsement deal ever signed in golf according to New York Post. Tiger was the leader in that category before McIlroy came along to join the ‘commercial party’. But McIlroy’s performances combined with his relative young age and (not to forget Tiger’s fall after his sex scandal) are factors, which may have pushed Nike to break some barriers for endorsement deals in golf and to sign a ‘long 10-year contract’ with McIlroy. Similar development trends are common in sports where athletes, who outperform other athletes and manage to stay as no. 1 in the World at a young age climb to a status where they can enjoy more power in setting the commercial agenda. In other words, it becomes their market place in a situation where sponsors want to exploit the best trade-off between price and value of an endorsement deal and thus will be likely to sign longer contracts (unless there are evident risk elements tied to the athlete).


Talking about ‘value for money’ at the moment (and of course there are several ways to measure that), Tiger Woods is still the ‘most-talked about’ athlete in golf although McIlroy leads the way on the golf course right now. Nike has a vast array of experiences with endorsement deals with the best athletes worldwide and the Nike-McIlroy deal is not a coincidence but time will show if McIlroy can give Nike the same ROIs as Tiger? At least for now, there is some work ahead if McIlroy has to catch Tiger’s lead in online content, see illustration below:

Online exposure for Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy (Nov. 2011 – Nov. 2012)*:


Tiger Woods

Rory McIlroy


2.39 mio. mentions/84 %

470,720 mentions/16 %


179,992 mentions/80 %

45,554 mentions/20 %


103,384 mentions/87 %

14,874 mentions/13 %


295,329 mentions/62 %

180,090 mentions/38 %


1.81 mio. mentions/89 %

230,202 mentions/11 %

*Source: Havas Sports & Entertainment.


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