×

Talking Tiger with Nike Golf’s Cindy Davis

With Tiger Woods returning to the course for the first time since he won the U.S. Open in June, the folks at Nike are gearing up, literally. Before we run our interview with Nike Golf president Cindy Davis, check out what the folks at Nike Golf had on their Web site today – displaying five shirts that Woods will play in during this week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships.

tiger_wardrobe_nike.jpg
NIKE

Darren: I said that Nike, out of all of Tiger’s sponsors, would get the hardest hit from his absence. But one retailer told me that this was the best time for Tiger to be out because the economic downturn was hurting everyone. How did Nike Golf fare over the last eight months?

Davis:The economy impacted everyone and the golf retail world obviously is not immune, but we felt his presence even in his absence. He was still involved in the conversation as far as the media was concerned, he still was working with our product development teams and participating in marketing from a consumer events standpoint. And now, let’s face it, his return is definitely going to be one of the biggest stories of the year. Every time Tiger tees it up he’s making history and he brings a great energy to the sport of golf.

Darren: You seem to have a lot of new stuff for Tiger to market?

Davis:Yeah, we have to remind him what’s in his bag. He has the new Dymo driver, new VR blade irons, a new VR wedge and a new SV wedge.

Darren: The ball?

Davis:He’ll be playing with our One Platinum ball (as he has in the past), but he’ll be switching to our new One Tour Ball in March. We’re fading out the One Platinum during the first half of this year.

Darren: He’s also wearing new shoes called the TW Air Zoom 2009’s?

Davis:They have new ballistic nylon mesh that make them more breathable and to make it more comfortable to walk 18 holes. And he’s also obviously wearing new apparel that will be part of our spring delivery.

Darren: This weekend, we found that AT&T will be on Tiger’s golf bag. Did you guys make a run at it and if not, why didn’t it make sense?

Davis:We honestly feel that we’re so strongly associated with him and we’re quite happy about the impact he already makes.

Darren: In the end, how much did Tiger’s absence hurt Nike? I know that’s hard to answer because when he left the game, our economy took a turn for the worse.

Davis:Yeah, because of the environment it’s so hard to answer that question. All I can say is that in his absence, the Swoosh was still all over the course across the world, with many of our Nike golf athletes winning PGA Tour events since he left. But he is the number one golfer in the world, and maybe the number one athlete in the world, and we definitely felt a void in energy with him not being out there.

Darren: Earlier this month, Nike said it would be cutting some of its marketing budget to respond to the economy. How has that hit Nike Golf?

Davis:We’re still marketing. In the month of February, we debuted our new Dymo driver, new footwear and new apparel and we’re debuting the Dymo STR8-fit in March. We’re still out there but we’re definitely being mindful of the environment and adjusting our strategy accordingly. There are two things that help us. We’re a global company that operates in various parts of the world – even though the world economy seems to be going through a tough time now. And secondly, we’re a head-to-toe golf company, which means we’re not purely reliant on one particular category. That allows us to leverage and manage our business during these difficult times.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com