No Tiger Woods at Rocket Mortgage Classic means millions less in sponsorship value

By Bill Shea of The Athletic–…Eric Wright, president and director of research at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., offered to crunch some numbers to assess the cost of Woods not playing in the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The firm measures the value of sponsorships across all forms of media by totaling mentions and indexing them against the cost of print, broadcast and digital ads.

Joyce Julius & Associates calculated the number of mentions for the four non-major U.S. tournaments Woods played in so far this year and compared them to the tournaments the preceding week when he stayed home, Wright said.

The results are stark.

“The tournaments featuring Woods received on average 93 percent more news coverage (TV-internet-print from Monday through Thursday) than those events not featuring Woods in the field. Granted it is a rather small sample set but is important to point out that the disparity between tournaments with and without Woods was the same in January and February, even before he won the Masters,” Wright said. “On average, tournaments featuring Woods were mentioned in 3,890 pre-event news stories, while events not featuring Woods typically garnered about 2,010 pre-event stories.”

That breaks down to about $3 million to $3.5 million more exposure value, on average, for the event sponsor during the week leading up to the tournament when Woods plays, Wright said.

That’s the additional brand value lost to Detroit-based tournament sponsor Quicken Loans Inc., which has been positioning its Rocket Mortgage app as its primary consumer-facing retail product for several years via Super Bowl commercials and other major marketing initiatives.

And that’s just the value in media mentions prior to the tournament. A Tiger-free tournament also will get fewer media mentions once the competition begins. That’s more unrealized value.

Woods is one of a small cadre of athletes that can provide significant additional brand exposure value for companies, Wright said, so his absence will sting at least a tiny bit. The words “Rocket Mortgage” won’t be seen or heard by as many people as often.

“There are many ways to see the Tiger Woods effect on a golf tournament, with viewership and attendance the absolute starting points,” Wright said. “His presence alone is an instant accelerant for both. He is one of a handful of athlete personalities that move the needle every time. I put Tom Brady, LeBron James and Tiger Woods into the same category; they are coverage magnets, every time, without fail. I think the amount national media coverage heading into an event is very telling in terms of the attention level of potential viewers and attendees. More interest draws more coverage, more cover draws more interest.”…