Prime Example 1A Of Why You Take Charge Of Your Damage Control

There are so many lasting images searing into what's left of my memory from the Tiger Woods accident and ensuing crisis. But we have a new leader in the clubhouse.

Now, the question I had planned to pose to you all was this: what's been more damaging to his image, (A) the 14 mistresses/divorce/loss-of-sponsors, or (B) the stony silence/no-denial reaction to reports since November 27th. But after reading Benoit Denizet-Lewis's blog post on the sex rehab clinic where Tiger is staying, I now know the answer: B.
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"I'm keeping OUR dogs - you can have YOUR dogs!"

James Desborough in News of the World files a highly entertaining and highly unlikely account of Elin telling friends how she's rating all of Tiger's mistresses and issuing tabloid-ready quotes like the above line. Desborough also spells out how Tiger is offering Elin a deal to stand by him so that he can rebuild his image ala Kobe.
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Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, An Elephant Gets-The-Nod Edition

Russell Simmons, the guy who introduced the American public to the art of def poetry (a.k.a. the thing they force on Guantanamo inmates after waterboarding stops working), is claiming that his people have been talking to Tiger's people and his people may even talk to Tiger Woods Friday to discuss the $3 million that our beloved little hermit might donate in the name of Haitian relief.

Are you sensing my skepticism?

Simone Weichselbaum and Samuel Goldsmith report for the New York Daily News:

Simmons and representatives from Wyclef Jean's Haitian relief organization Yele have asked Woods to support the effort. Simmons spokesman has been in touch with Woods managment team and they are "excited" about the idea.

"I am waiting to have the conversation [with Tiger] tomorrow morning," Simmons' spokesman Marcus Harris said. "I am hopeful that it is a yes."

"I am just asking for his heart and his hand," he said.

"Just to meet the needs of the people."

Uh, since you're asking him to write a check, could you also ask him where he is?

WSJ's Emily Steel tells us about Accenture's replacement for Tiger in their new $40-50 million ad campaign: a surfing elephant. He was a big hit with the people!

After nearly a month of focus-group testing and production work, Accenture is rolling out the new global marketing campaign this week. The creatures, which include an elephant, a chameleon and some frogs and fish, will star in a series of TV, print and online spots. They also will appear in airport ads in 28 countries.

The airport ads, which travelers will start seeing in the U.S. on Thursday, are aimed at Accenture's client base of senior business executives.

One of the posters shows an elephant balancing precariously on a surfboard. The text reads, "Who says you can't be big and nimble?" Another ad shows a frog leaping over three others, with the tagline, "Play quantum leapfrog."

Those advertising wizards have done it again!

Like most ad agencies, Young & Rubicam, Accenture's agency, had a few ideas in reserve that could be dusted off and put into production should the need arise. Y&R, a unit of WPP, gave Accenture some options. In the tests, the animal ads were the top performer. Other ideas that fell by the wayside included jugglers and jump-ropers.

Oh come on, what about the baton-twirlers? Surely they were in there too? Maybe a baton-twirling basset hound?

Jami Bernard on the new campaign:

Big and nimble. Accenture is certainly big (it raked in $21.6 billion in revenue during its past fiscal year). It's nimble, in the sense that it came up with a global advertising scheme a mere month after shedding Tiger. Big and nimble, okay. But how about smart?

The idea of the elephant - along with a chameleon and some frogs and fish - got a thumbs-up from advertising focus groups, so it's not as if the public will reject the ads. I should point out, though, that the typical focus group would also have given the okay to velvet paintings of wide-eyed puppies.

David Nichtern says Brit Hume's recommendation for Tiger to take up Christianity provides an "incredible opportunity for American Buddhists to step forward and share their tradition, experience and point of view."

My teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, emphasized that Buddhism is a non-theistic discipline. By that he meant that we shouldn't rely on the power of an external, even if "divine", source for salvation or redemption. As he often said, "we have to hitch up our own chubas " or putting it more in the American vernacular "we have to pick up our own socks." Even more directly, "if you make a mess, then YOU have to clean it up".

Would hiding on your massive private yacht count?

There are many ways within the Buddhist tradition to heal, recover, repair, repent, or refrain from harmful actions, but the essence of all of these methods is restoring and re-connecting to one's own innate and indestructible goodness, not depending on salvation through the intervention of an external agent whether it be Buddha, Jesus or any other spiritual guide.

I'd call that a big yes.

Bob Carney is seeing a change in tone from Golf Digest readers when writing about Tiger. I could see that with these letters, but I'm not so sure about this set.

Add Paul Goydos to the list predicting that a few of those angry letter writers will probably be heckling

"He is going to be heckled without question," he said. "That's going to be part of the security issues for the PGA Tour to deal with over the next x number of months or years. I don't think there's any question that's going to be the case."

Diane Pucin notices that EA Sports has posted the latest version of the golf game and you can all rest easy, Tiger's name is still on it. ** Yes, because it's not the latest version.

And finally, George Lopez asked Charles Barkley about the status of his friendship with Tiger (still hasn't talked to him).

"I think I am entitled to one testy news conference every 15 years"

Holy Guacamole, we have an admission from the Commish that his Kapalua press conference was "testy!"

Tim Finchem, talking to Ron Sirak who sums up the business issues facing the PGA Tour in 2010 and pulls this out of a Commish well-rested following his soulful, male-bonding-heavy fishing trip with Sid Wilson and Mark Rolfing:

Finchem had a rocky pre-tournament session with reporters Tuesday as they peppered him with questions about Woods, sponsors and drug testing.

"I think I am entitled to one testy news conference every 15 years," Finchem told Golf World with a laugh after returning to the mainland. "People keep predicting that we are going to implode. Why don't they just wait for us to implode and then talk about it? It's almost as if there are some who are rooting for us to implode, and then when the Tiger thing came along, they were saying, 'Ah, this will do it.' "

It's a bit odd that he found the questions related to Tiger or drug testing to be of such a sensitive nature. Looking back on the press conference I don't see any suggestion from the scribes that they were hoping for a PGA Tour implosion, do you?

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, Investigations Edition

Before we get into all of the investigations launched Monday, Alan Shipnuck on the mood at Kapalua and the increasingly apparent issues facing Tiger when and if he returns:

Even pals like Stricker have no feel for when Woods will return. But coming back is only the first step. For all of his wondrous physical gifts, Woods's mental toughness was always his greatest strength. With his carefully cultivated image shattered, his family potentially torn asunder and a once-adoring public now turned largely hostile, it is not a given that Tiger will ever again regain the focus, intensity and desire that defined him as a player.

Jason Sobel suggests that barring something unusual, Tiger should hold on to his No. 1 ranking, something Sobel isn't wild about.

Simply put, without being totally dominant, that shouldn't be enough golf for Tiger to retain this ranking for so long. Over this period, he won seven of those 19 starts, but failed to claim a major championship.

So, what's the explanation? According to those who run the OWGR, "Tiger Woods' average points figure will drop each week he doesn't play and it will take until somewhere between the U.S. Open and Open Championship for his average to drop to where Phil Mickelson's currently is. If Mickelson plays well enough to maintain his current average and Woods doesn't play, then the No. 1 spot could change hands early July." Of course, they also allow that "there are so many variables to be more precise than that."

Mike Fish reveals that Dr. Anthony Galea assistant Mary Anne Catalano's court appearance has been postponed until March 12, buying more time for the doctor and those who may be implicated in the investigation. Since multiple sources say Tiger won't be involved, I'd count this as good news either way.

Denver's KUSA 9 says a Federal investigation has been opened into the "Unfaithful" pop art/product tampering situation. Amazingly, 1000 bottles were made and one of the geniuses left an email address on the packaging. Even better, he's blabbing to the press.

9Wants To Know investigators tracked an e-mail hidden in the label's small print to Jason Kay of Longmont.

Kay admitted he helped a friend pull of what he called a "pop art" project.

"He doesn't want to be contacted," Kay said. "The artist wants to remain anonymous because there are similar future projects in the works."

Kay said the object of the project was to create conversation.

Bottles turning up in the Denver area have hand-written numbers on the bottom indicating each is one of 100.

Kay said there are actually about 1,000 such "unfaithful" bottles planted in stores from Longmont to Denver. He said the hand-numbered ones are just the "collectors' edition."

He admitted the stunt was "very expensive" but wouldn't discuss the details of making the labels or sneaking them into stores.

"I used my connections," Kay said.

Parents must be so proud!

Megan O'Matz reports that a Florida state senator wants to investigate the anonymous tip suggesting possible child abuse in the Woods residence.

Now, a state senator who oversees Florida's Department of Children & Families is calling for an investigation into whether someone knowingly filed a false child abuse report against the Woods family, perhaps needlessly traumatizing the Woods children and wasting time and tax dollars. Doing so is a felony.

The senator said she thinks a call was placed to the Florida Abuse Hotline "to keep the media celebrity attention going."

"To use the resources of the state for some grand celebrity theater is completely unacceptable," said Sen. Ronda Storms, a Hillsborough County Republican who chairs the Senate's Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. "It robs children who are legitimately in danger." 

Mel Gibson spoke out on Tiger's behalf...

'I feel sorry for Tiger Woods,' he says. 'Why are we talking about this when we're sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan? You've got this history-changing event going on and we're talking about Tiger's private life and golf injuries. He's being used as a diversion and it just drives me crazy. You come out savaged. I just think, 'Who cares?'

The SI roundtable guys talked about life without Tiger and what it'll be like after his return:

Van Sickle: Enough of Sir Charles. What's the status of Tiger Woods? He has completely dropped out of sight, yet he was still the talk of the week, even after the SBS Championship got underway. Can we get over him and get on with the season?

Shipnuck: Here at Kapalua, Tiger loomed large in his absence. The players are weirded-out not knowing where he is, when he's coming back, or if he'll be the same when he does. Tiger's return, or lack thereof, will go a long way toward defining the season. Until he's back we're all going to continue obsessing about him.

Herre: I can see why the other players find TW's absence unsettling — it's weird being in the dark and not knowing. Mark Rolfing said on Golf Channel that everything will quickly return to normal when TW returns. I don't think so.

Friedman: Yes, it's a be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation. His first tournament back will be a zoo.

Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Tiger could have taken some notes from Sir Charles about not taking himself so seriously. Charles is having fun. A less uptight Tiger might relish the opportunity to host SNL.

Van Sickle: That could be a smart option once his marriage situation is settled. Not that Tiger would ever consider it.

And finally, I'm guessing they won't be pitching this reality show to The Golf Channel. Particularly when you have never-before behind-the-scenes footage of John Daly.

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, "Unfaithful" Edition

Kevin Mitchell reports on Butch Harmon's expanded on-air comments about how Tiger needs to handle his return. I'm sure Tiger appreciates the input:

"The golfing public would like to see Tiger Woods do a press conference," Harmon said. "To stand there in front of everybody, take his medicine, be humble, be embarrassed, be humiliated, and answer the questions. But where the hell is he? We could find Osama bin Laden easier than we can find Tiger Woods. How long can you spend on a yacht in the middle of the ocean?"

There have been suggestions that the Ryder Cup could be tricky, and Butch gets right to the point:

"The difficult part, in my opinion, is going to be the heckling from the galleries. He's going to get it. If he plays in the Ryder Cup [in Wales in October], which I happen to think he will, that's going to be very interesting."

Paul Harris notes that Tiger's disappearing act continues to be a public relations fiasco.

His rumoured whereabouts range from a series of exotic locations around the globe to the idea that he might still be holed up in his Florida mansion, undergoing lengthy sessions of marriage counselling in the wake of revelations of his serial adultery with numerous women. But only one thing is clear: no one has any idea where he is.

"It really is amazing. Anyone wanting, in effect, to disappear from the face of the earth should take a leaf out of his book," said Ashley Dos Santos, an executive at Crosby-Volmer International Communications and an expert on crisis PR.

In fact, Woods's achievements in disappearing would seem to match any of his many astonishing sporting triumphs when it comes to skill, perseverance and triumphing against the odds.

But nearly all experts agree that Woods cannot hide for ever and that the longer he stays hidden the more obsessed the world will become when he does finally emerge. "This is a classic case of what not to do in a crisis," said Dos Santos.

As for his future golf media relations, the SI/golf.com team kicked this around and Jim Herre probably summed it up best:

Herre: I think the way Woods has handled the scandal to this point is a pretty good indicator of how he intends to handle things when and if he returns.

People posts an Elin update on her holiday ski trip and concern for her children, as does this extensive James Desborough News of the World story suggesting she's keeping them away from Tiger because of his sensitive mental state. There is also this, which makes sense based on his incredible and increasingly disturbing disappearing act.

A source told us: "He has been extremely moody, with his conversations to managers and friends as brief as possible.

"He has cut off others from his entourage. Even his caddie Steve can't get hold of him at the moment.

"And he's made it clear that he doesn't want to do anything on the golf course for a long time, even until 2012. He realised that his golf tour life has become a decadent, no holds barred non stop party.

"Some of us are worried he may never return."

Cindy Adams of the NY Post (thanks reader Rick) suggests there is a 24/7 Tiger PR team--really--looking for damage control specialists.

Now hustling around -- not to lawyers, which they already have -- but to damage-control specialists with a track record who know the streets and can also handle financial issues. A whole other war's brewing relating to shareholders in companies that have canceled endorsements. Besides whatever's being promised to the wife, there exists wrangling businesswise. Endorsers who pulled out, what do their contracts stipulate? Can more money be due? While everything's based on image, not all the contracts have morality clauses.

They're hunting a honcho plugged into the press who has heretofore handled scandalous stories. They're figuring a two-year project. One year to let it all shake out and damage-control it. Second year to rebuild. As in Operation Clinton and Spitzer.

So, for the nonce, Humpty Dumpty must stave off financial lawsuits and stay cozy with all the endorsers whom he basically thinks have put a shiv in his back.

Denver's KUSA television reveals a case of product placement involving Tiger and Gatorade:



And finally, the Wanda Sykes show chimed in on the Brit Hume remarks:



"The tone of the news conference and the demeanor of the usually unflappable Finchem changed direction faster than a putt on the slick and tricky greens of the Plantation Course."

Alex Miceli reports on Tim Finchem's testy sitdown with the scribblers just a few weeks after he put on a brave face to talk about Tiger's leave.

It appears that ASAP has not been hired to do transcripts for the Kapalua event, but we thankfully have Golfweek's Miceli to share the key exchanges with us:

Question: Have you talked to Tiger or attempted to talk to him?

Tim Finchem: Have I talked to who?

Q: Tiger.

Finchem: I answered this question before. The answer is, I have not.

Q: When?

Finchem: The day I did my press conference (Dec. 17).

Now that's a weird answer. Or just a wee bit smart assy...take your pick.

Q: It’s a few weeks later.

Finchem: No, I have not talked to Tiger. No, I have not talked to him. I don’t know when I would talk to him.

Q: It’s been three weeks. I just thought I would ask.

Finchem: When I addressed that, I thought I addressed it in this context, that he asks for privacy. We pledged our commitment to give him privacy, so that would include me trying to talk to him.

Q: I understand that. I thought with a personal relationship, if you tried to reach him at all.

Finchem: No.

That's just bizarre  he did not try to reach out and touch someone. Actually, this is more peculiar:

Q: You were asked about Tiger’s relationship with (inaudible). You said you had no concerns...

Finchem: No, what I said was that I was not involved in evaluating it myself. That our anti-doping team, which includes internal people and external people, had reviewed the procedure that was given to Tiger in media reports, and they had no concerns that that procedure violated our anti-doping policies. That’s what I said.

Q: You also said, according to the transcript, ‘I have no reason to have any concern.’

Finchem: Because of that report, I had no reason.

So they reached their conclusion about Tiger's work with Dr. Galea based on news reports? Granted, Dr. Galea did blab excessively to the New York Times but that sure seems like an odd way to conduct an investigation even if it was the paper of record.

Q: That comment was widely panned by a number of doping experts, including the head of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), who accused you of having your head in the sand.

Finchem: Was he talking about the procedure or the possibility of using HGH (human growth hormone)? I had no report that they said anything about me having my head in the sand.

Q: Well, he said, I quote, unquote, As a doping expert, when I hear in the same question, blood spinning, HGH and Actovegin, I tend to straighten up and have a better look. At least you look into it.

Finchem: I appreciate his advice. I will stand by the response I gave during the press conference. I had no reason to be concerned about the procedure that was reported. I’m not so sure that that’s inconsistent with what he said. I’m not suggesting it is, but I will stand by my response. Do you have another question?

Oh, a do you have another question! I believe that's MBASpeak for, go...oh wait, this is a family website.

Q: You don't think maybe you could have phrased it differently?

Finchem: I’m not going to play word games with you.

He would never do such a thing. Well there was the time he used Latin. And there was coterminously.

I answered your question. If you have another question, I will try to answer that one.

I think someone needs a Kapalua Spa day! Get this man a Waihua’s Lomilomi Massage, followed by a Blueberry Soy Slimming, a Vitamin C Firm & Tone and top it all off by throwing a Microdermabrasion & Yam Enzyme on the old PGA Tour expense account. (And you think I'm making those up...here's the menu.)

Tiger's Indefinite Leave Clippings, "Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that that Tiger Woods badly needs" Edition

I've been astounded by a lot of things over the last month. But the ability of Vanity Fair to generate so much buzz over some photos locked in a drawer and accompanied by a revelation-free story in a magazine usually so rich with detail?  Check out these headlines procured from a Google search for the article about nothing:

"Tiger Woods shown shirtless, pumping iron"

"Tiger Woods gets the Annie Leibovitz treatment for Vanity Fair"

"Tiger Woods strips for Vanity Fair photo shoot"

Vanity Fair' on Tiger Woods: 'A sex addict who could not get enough'

Vanity Fair: Tiger Woods Paid Big Money For Sex, Goes Topless for Cover

As for the date of that cover photo, Annie Leibovitz herself isn't saying (yet) but she chimes in with this reminder why she should to stick to taking photos: “Tiger is an intensely competitive athlete—and quite serious about his sport. I wanted to reveal that in these photos. And to show his incredible focus and dedication.”

Steve Elling is having trouble understanding how Conde Nast's Vanity Fair is sensationalizing Tiger as Conde Nast's Golf Digest puts him on a sabbatical:

Then there's the completely reverse philosophy espoused by Vanity Fair, which, rather unbelievably, is also a Conde Nast publication. The latter features Woods on the cover of its latest edition, sans shirt and doing biceps curls, and includes a feature story that seemingly was written in 15 minutes by a guy with no apparent knowledge of the PGA Tour. So while one Conde Nast mag was skirting the Woods situation entirely -- he has a seven-figure contract to pen the tutorial pieces for Digest -- another was exploiting his situation to sell magazines. How consistent, huh? Maybe Woods can pen an instructional piece when he gets back called, "The left hand should know what the right hand is doing." Good picture, though.

Elling also touches on the tour's decision to remove Tiger as host of the AT&T National event and notes this discrepancy.

When asked how that differs from two years ago, when Woods was on the shelf after having knee surgery and skipped attending the event entirely, the tour declined to elaborate further. ... Add it all up and the impression is clear: AT&T, a huge player in the tour's sponsorship pantheon, wanted to sever its ties to Woods across the board.

And don't miss his final "Up and Down" item on Tiger mistress Ashley Samson talking to the New York Daily News.

Gawker features this follow-up video of Brit Hume appearing on The O'Reilly Factor to clarify his remarks and not really doing a very good job convincing the Buddhists of the world that he thinks very highly of their philosophy. From the interview:

He needs something that Christianity especially provides and gives and offers, and that is redemption and forgiveness. I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than anything else…I think that Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs.

You mean a blood platelet spinning doctor south of the Canadian border?

The New York Daily News' Nancy Dillon reports that Buddhists were not happy with Hume's homily.

"Could Hume get away with saying something like this about Jewish people or black people or the Muslim Faith?" asks Kyle Lovett on TheReformedBuddhist.com.

"You betcha he couldn't," Lovett continues. "Why should he be able to skate away scott free when speaking about Buddhists? Because we are only 3 or 4% of the population of the US? Hell No! Sometimes we have to speak up."

Adam Satariano says that EA Sports is sticking with Tiger and keeping his name on their games.

“Regardless of what’s happening in his personal life, and regardless of his decision to take a personal leave from the sport, Tiger Woods is still one of the greatest athletes in history,” Peter Moore, president of EA Sports, said in a statement today.

Titles featuring Woods have generated $675 million in U.S. sales since 1998 for Electronic Arts, the second-largest video game company, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. “Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online,” to be released this month, is the first in the series that can be played through a Web browser. The game is part of Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello’s strategy to expand sales of non-console titles.

Dave Shedloski reports on the reduced PGA Tour Media Guide (no more photos of all VP's, no wonder it's 100 pages shorter). He also says a certain somebody is still on the cover.

Jon Show looks at the PGA Tour's "inventory" issues and notes this from a consultant close to a couple of key sponsors:

Despite the developments surrounding the sport’s biggest star, agency executives do not expect the controversy to have a short-term effect on sponsorship sales.

“You should pay what you’re going to pay for your title sponsorship regardless of Tiger,” said Sarah Hirshland, senior vice president of consulting at Wasserman Media Group, which works with tour title sponsors Northern Trust and Travelers. “You can’t make a decision based on one guy that you can’t control where he’s going to play.”

They're saying Tiger's visit to Australia generated $31 million in revenues and tourist dollars. Boy, those National Enquirer expense accounts must be generous.

And finally, add Africa and South Africa to the list of places Tiger may be hiding.