WOODS HITS GOLF JACKPOT;AGENT SEES $60 MILLION PAYDAY FOR YOUNG PHENOM

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Golfing phenom Tiger Woods can tee off a little easier, knowing Nike and Titleist aren't asking him to be the sport's marketing messiah-at least, not for three years.

Mr. Woods could net $60 million over the next five years from Nike and Titleist alone, according to his agent, Hughes Norton, senior VP of golf at International Management Group.

Both companies have agreed to pay Mr. Woods a guaranteed amount over the first three years, possibly as much as $40 million combined, regardless of whether he qualifies for the PGA Tour.

FAITH AND CONFIDENCE

"It reflects the measure of their long-term faith and confidence in Tiger that they won't penalize him a cent if he doesn't make the tour in the first three years," said Mr. Norton.

Mr. Woods' good looks, charisma and celebrity will score him other sponsors. Deals with a soft drink or an automotive marketer could come next, and talks have taken place with McDonald's Corp., as Mr. Woods craves its products "morning, noon and night," said Mr. Norton.

"He even recently missed a plane because he got tied up at an airport McDonald's, grabbing a bite to eat," he said.

Money aside, there are other reasons why Mr. Woods isn't just another athlete endorser for Nike and Titleist, which will have him endorsing golf balls and equipment. As he is only 20, and part African-American, part Native-American, part Chinese and part Thai, Mr. Woods will be used to reach demographic segments most golf marketers don't aggressively pursue.

`AMBASSADOR OF CHANGE'

"Tiger wants to be an ambassador of change among minorities and youth, and that's certainly a goal of Nike," said Merle Marting, marketing communications manager for Nike's golf division, which accounted for nearly 2% of its $6 billion in fiscal 1996.

"In the future, we will use Tiger in our brand communications, not just as a category representative."

A signature line of Tiger Woods branded apparel is being considered.

According to National Golf Foundation, there were about 2 million active golfers age 12 to 17 in 1995, up from 1.7 million in 1994. There were about 5.2 million active golfers age 18 to 29 in '95, down from 5.4 million the previous year.

"History has shown that a celebrity name can inspire people to take up the game," said Judy Thompson, an NGF spokeswoman. "Just as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus inspired the baby boomers, Tiger Woods may do the same for their children."

`HELLO, WORLD'

Nike launched its first Tiger Woods campaign in The Wall Street Journal with a three-page ad, using the tagline, "Hello, world."

Quickly assembled TV spots with Mr. Woods replaced regularly scheduled creative and aired during ABC's and ESPN's broadcasts of the Greater Milwaukee Open, Mr. Woods first tourney as a pro, plus NBC's and Fox's National Football league broadcasts last weekend.

Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., is the agency.

Titleist is preparing its own campaign featuring Mr. Woods, who will continue to play with his Mizuno brand clubs through October, during which time the American Brands unit will develop a set of clubs to his specifications.

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