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Gatorade cuts ties with Tiger Woods Add to ...

MEDIA REPORTER

How sweet it isn't.

Sugary sports drink Gatorade will no longer be promoted by Tiger Woods. Gatorade confirmed yesterday that it was ending its contract with the scandal-ridden golfer. It's the third major endorsement deal Mr. Woods has lost in recent months.

"We no longer see a role for Tiger in our marketing efforts and have ended our relationship," a Gatorade spokeswoman said. "We wish him all the best."

The news comes just one day after another sponsor, Nike Inc., declared its intention to support the golfer while he takes a hiatus from the sport to deal with his personal problems.

"We've been supportive of Tiger since the story broke and we continue to be supportive," Nike brand president Charlie Denson said on Thursday.

Last week, Mr. Woods made a public appearance to apologize for his well-documented affairs with a number of women.

Since the scandal was made public, brands that were more focused on Mr. Woods' sports skill have been most likely to support him, said Robert Tuchman, the executive vice-president of Premiere Global Sports, a marketing company that guides businesses in their use of athletes for endorsements. Companies that allied their brand with Mr. Woods' personal traits, such as his focus on and off the course, were the quickest to drop him.

"That's why this is such a surprise," Mr. Tuchman said. "You look at the greatest golfer of all time, and a company like Gatorade, which is all about sports performance, drops him. Companies aren't willing to stick around and see how he does when he comes back on the course. That's interesting."

PepsiCo Inc. first announced it was partnering with Mr. Woods in October of 2007, to develop a branded drink for its Gatorade line called Gatorade Tiger. The drink, which launched in March, 2008, came in three flavours "inspired and selected by Tiger."

"I'm eager to launch my first signature product ... and look forward to developing additional sports performance beverages with Gatorade in the coming years," Mr. Woods said in a company release at the time of the deal. Its financial terms were not disclosed, but PepsiCo did donate $100,000(U.S.) to the Tiger Woods Foundation at the time, a charitable organization that runs community programs and gives scholarships and grants to young people.

A spokesperson for the company said yesterday that it would continue its relationship with the foundation. Gatorade discontinued the Tiger drink in November.

Gatorade is owned by the second-largest soda manufacturer in the world, PepsiCo.

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