NIKE AND TITLEIST TANGLE OVER TIGER: SPOTS AIRED ON U.S. OPEN TELECAST HAVE SPONSOR THREATENING LAWSUIT

By Published on .

A series of Nike Golf ads starring Tiger Woods threatens to spark a legal battle between two marketers whose products he endorses, Nike and Titleist.

The problems stem from two TV spots that broke during the U.S. Open golf tournament. In the commercials, Mr. Woods is shown wearing a new line of Nike apparel as he swats golf balls (see Adages item at left). Titleist fears the ads give viewers the impression the golfing phenom is endorsing a line of Nike golf balls introduced earlier this year.

Mr. Woods has a five-year, $40 million contract with Nike to promote clothes and shoes, and a five-year, $20 million contract to promote Titleist clubs and balls.

Mr. Woods' agent at International Management Group is in talks with Nike and Titleist to resolve the conflict by altering the spots.

"There'll be some tweaking to the spots," said IMG sports agent Mark Steinberg. "Everyone wants to work together."

TAG QUESTIONED

The "Nike Golf" tag that appears at the end of the commercial is a major source of friction for Titleist. It may be replaced in ads by Nike's swoosh logo or Mr. Woods' own logo, eliminating the possible perception he is endorsing all Nike Golf products.

But Titleist may still sue IMG, according to executives close to the situation, because as Mr. Woods' management agency it has the duty to enforce various partnership deals. The ads apparently were shot quickly and without storyboards, and IMG is said to have balked after seeing the completed spots.

Nike Golf and Titleist would not comment. Nike's ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., which produced the spots, also refused comment.

The ads are not currently airing.

In this article:
Most Popular