EA SPORTS bucked the trend when Tiger’s infidelity was announced and joined Nike in continuing their sponsorship. EA CEO John Riccitiello made comments at this weeks Reuters Global Media Summit that indicate the relationship may not last much longer:
This is no threat against Tiger. We’re with him because he has the promise of being the world’s best golfer. We have no plans to move away from him, but it’s a business relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he’s the best golfer. Both of those things need to be true in the long run for the partnership to make sense.
Ricitiello may say it’s not a threat but it’s hard to read that and not see it as a “win or we’re done with you” ultimatum. EA’s recently launched Facebook golf game does not bear Tiger’s name and while EA claims that was the plan all along Riccitiello said games that don’t carry Woods’ name are being done to reach more gamers. Not sure a lot of companies pay huge endorsement fees to people they don’t think add broad appeal to their products so that statement should make Eldrick very nervous. One things for sure, Tiger won’t be comforted by Riccitiellos closing comment on the matter:
He sort of stuck with us for a very long time and we made great business together, and we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time.
Remains to be seen how long that period of time will be…
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