Tiger endorsement firsts: U.S. beverage deal, licensing agreement

Updated: October 17, 2007, 12:08 AM ET
Associated Press

Tiger Woods will have his own brand of sports drink next year under an endorsement deal announced Tuesday with Gatorade that marks a couple of firsts for the world's No. 1 golfer -- his first U.S. deal with a beverage company and his first licensing agreement.

Gatorade said it will introduce "Gatorade Tiger" in March, with more products to follow. Woods even picked out the flavors himself, with the drink available in a cherry blend, citrus blend and grape.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Golfweek magazine reported last month it was for five years and could pay Woods as much as $100 million, moving him closer to the $1 billion mark in career endorsements.

"There have been some licensing elements to things we've done," said Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, who cited video games produced by EA Sports as an example. "But everything he does with Gatorade is going to be creating new products. It's something Tiger and I and our licensing business has been looking at for some time."

The deal has been in the works since the summer, and Golfweek reported earlier that it came down to Gatorade and Vitamin Water. It became obvious who won out when Woods began drinking from Gatorade bottles during the final month of the PGA Tour season, even when the Gatorade product wasn't available at certain tournaments.

"Gatorade has been part of my game plan for years, whether I'm training or competing, so this is an ideal match," Woods said in a statement. "I'm eager to launch my first signature product in a few months and look forward to developing additional sports performance beverages with Gatorade in the coming years."

Woods, with 61 victories on the PGA Tour and 13 major championships, joins a stable of star athletes at Gatorade -- Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Mia Hamm. None of those athletes has licensing deals, which also is a first for Gatorade, a division of PepsiCo.

"His iconic nature resonates everywhere he goes," said Jeff Urban, senior vice president of Gatorade. "Bridging that iconic nature with his will to win, those things make this a big deal for us."

Urban said it was too early to say how Gatorade would market Woods and his new product line, especially since the drink will not be available until the spring.

The company released video of Woods going through sweat analysis testing with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, which tested such things as his sweat rate and energy needs during exercise.

Woods has endorsed everything from sports equipment and apparel (Nike) to financial services (Accenture) to automobiles (Buick) to shaving products (Gillette). His first beverage deal comes after 11 years as a professional.

"We wanted to get away from a straight endorsement deal in the beverage category," Steinberg said. "We thought this would be the best fit for his first licensing deal. It's authentic to what Tiger does every day, as hard as he works out every day."

Woods previously had an endorsement deal with Asahi Coffee in Japan.

The Gillette endorsement features a television commercial with Roger Federer and French soccer star Thierry Henry. Steinberg said it was not likely that Woods and Jordan, who are close friends, would do a Gatorade commercial together. They have never appeared in television ads for Nike.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press