How Will Nike React to Golf’s New Star?

As a golf geek it’s been awesome watching the sudden rise of the sports newest superstar, Jordan Spieth. His domination of golf’s most illustrious competition, the Masters, at such a young age has raised many questions. Will he be golf’s next rising star? Will he dethrone Rory McIlroy from being golf’s no.1 man? If this is the case, what will this mean for sponsors such as Nike, who sponsored McIlroy $250M for the next 10 years.


Let’s go back in time…

In 1996 Nike signed the young and upcoming Tiger Woods for a deal that was worth $40M. For a player who had not won a major professional tournament, this raised many eyebrows. However, for over a decade (from 1997-2010 to be exact), Tiger broke records encouraging Nike to increase their investment in their most prized asset.

With Tiger coming into the twilight of his career, Nike decided to diversify their investments in the golf realm by taking on the young, talented and charismatic Northern Irishman, Rory McIlroy.

According to SportsPro, McIIroy is one of the world’s most marketable athletes. However, without Beckham-type good looks (no offence to the guy), he is only a sound investment if he is winning. If another challenger starts snapping up all the trophies, shareholders may begin wondering whether they will see a return on their investment.

Nike now has a dilemma: should they “just do it” (excuse the pun) and snap up Jordan Spieth (currently backed by UnderArmour), who is already posing a threat to knock Rory off his perch, or should they bite their nails and watch how things pan out?

Nike are not the only ones worried. EA Sports have just signed McIlroy to be the face of their PGA Tour video game franchise, that previously generated $771M in revenues during Tiger Woods’ entire run. This has people hesitating: should Mcllroy be deposed off his throne, the game could be considered obsolete before even hitting the shelves.

Golf pundits and geeks alike are excited by the prospect of a potential golden era for the sport, similar to what we have witnessed in tennis for over the past 10 years. However, for some global brands who have built their marketing campaigns on invincible golfing idols, this may result in uneasy feelings.

Is now the time to invest in Nike or EA? You be the one to decide.