Friday, December 25, 2009

Tiger Woods Improves Corporate Image

After it was discovered that Tiger Woods had engaged in numerous extra-marital affairs, his once loyal sponsors began dropping him or at least reducing his visibility with their companies. His sponsoring corporations apparently hold to this mantra: Bad morals do not a good spokesman make. Here is a brief run down of Woods' highly ethical sponsors:

Accenture has dropped Woods; a company with a record of "corrupt business practices" in its middle eastern offices and a company that was once part of Arthur Andersen (the company that did Enron's books). Cutting ties has worked for them before...

PepsiCo, the parent company of Gatorade has announced it will no longer pursue a line of drinks for which Woods was to be the primary spokesperson (they contend the decision was made before the recent revelations about Woods' personal life came to light... sure...). This from a company who lobbied congress to kill scientifically based guidelines on healthy eating because they would rather see obesity, diabetes, and corresponding mortality rates climb than hurt their bottom line.

AT&T is "reevaluating" their relationship with the world's #1 golfer. This company is worried about how it will look to have a philanderer among their shills. They were less concerned about the right thing when it came to illegally eavesdropping on their customers' conversations and unethically routing all their customers' emails through government servers.

Tag Heuer has decided to keep Woods but will downgrade his status. Not suprising since Tag Heuer's parent compnay, LVMH, was downgraded all the way off "the FTSE4Good index earlier this year as a result of poor compliance with supply chain requirements" (this is code that typically means LVMH have sub-contractors do manufacturing and these sub-contractors do not pay their employees a living wage; see also: sweatshops).

Of course we can accuse Woods of hypocrisy and hold him up as a symbol of the last decade where superficial morality passed as substance. But Woods did little more than convey the "squeaky clean" image his sponsors themselves attempt to communicate. Their hypocrisy should be the focus of our attention. But instead Tiger's personal infidelity has become a convenient scapegoat for corporate corruption.

The recent revelations about Woods' behavior instead suggest he is a better mirror of his corporate partners than was thought.

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