If you follow golf news closely and believe all the speculation floating around during the past week, then you would know Rory McIlroy has reportedly signed a $200 million endorsement deal with Nike to become the new face for golf. Team Rory and Team Nike have no comment for the moment (shocker!), but reports say Rory was seen filming a new Nike Golf commercial with Tiger Woods and two other PGA Tour pros who are rumored to be joining Nike in 2013- Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley.
When Nike and Rory McIlroy finally get around to making it official, I am curious to know what this announcement possibly means for Tiger Woods and Nike Golf? Personally, I think it means Nike is simply looking out for its own long-term golf prospects and planning ahead for “post-Tiger” golf. I surely don’t think Nike Golf will ever drop Tiger Woods, but Nike is much bigger than Tiger Woods and they know they must pay big money now to lock up the next golf star who can potentially pull down ten or more majors over the next decade. If the rumors are true, the $200 million is worth about $20 million a year which means it locks Rory up for the next 10 years.
Another interesting question in my mind is exactly what Nike is going to demand from Rory McIlroy? Nike has built a brand-within-a-brand with Tiger Woods, much the same way Nike built the Michael Jordan brand with the Jumpman logo. If you look around the sports world, you see the Jumpman logo on other products. Derek Jeter wears batting gloves and baseball cleats with the Jumpman logo. Will Rory McIlroy wear the Tiger Woods logo in an attempt to boost the “TW” brand or will he simply wear the infamous Nike swoosh all over his clothes? Perhaps Nike will develop a Rory McIlroy brand?
Tiger Woods has made Nike Golf what it is today. Although the overall Nike brand is much bigger than Tiger Woods alone, it’s hard to argue that Nike Golf would have been able to make so many strides in the golf industry without Woods. Adding Rory McIlroy to the Nike Golf roster will only boost that brand even more.