Mickelson vs. Woods: Who'll win in the end?

By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Phil Mickelson's victory at the 2010 Masters golf tournament presents could send sponsors flocking towards his wholesome family man image in the wake of Tiger Woods many scandals.

Mickelson embraced his cancer-stricken wife after his win in Augusta, Ga., on Sunday, cementing a positive image in polar opposite to Woods and his adulterous ways.

"The perfect tear came down [Mickelson's] eye as he's hugging his wife after winning," said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director for Baker Street Advertising. "I'm sure a lot of advertisers were looking at that and going, 'Huh, maybe this is the guy I should be sinking my millions into instead of Tiger'."

Meanwhile, Woods was swearing on the course and "coming across as a little petulant -- not terribly gracious in defeat," said Dorfman.

Having said that, Woods still managed to come in fourth place at the Masters, proving that he's still got game after taking a hiatus of several months from the sport, said Dorfman.

But, he added, Woods' antics failed to improve his scandalous, womanizing image, which had prompted sponsors, including PepsiCo's (PEP, Fortune 500) Gatorade, Accenture and AT&T (T, Fortune 500), to drop him months ago.

"As you know, we have ended our sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods," said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel on Monday, when asked if his company had any intention of bringing Woods back into the fold. "We wish him well in the future."

Meanwhile, Mickelson -- already a front man for Callaway Golf, (ELY) Rolex, KPMG and Barclays -- could rake in another $5 million from new endorsements as a direct result of his victory and positive image.

But Mickelson may find it difficult to maintain his new found limelight. Even though he is the second-highest-paid athlete in sports, according to Sports Illustrated, he still doesn't have the name recognition of Woods, who remains a giant and SI's highest-paid athlete.

"[Mickelson] doesn't have the persona, the level of recognition, the level of interest that Woods has," said John Antil, professor of marketing at the University of Delaware. "He doesn't even have the facial recognition. Mickelson really does suffer from being in the shadow of Woods. That's why a person like him needs wins and that center stage in publicity to keep him in the public eye."

Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Marketing Evaluations, which calculates consumer appeal for celebrities, said that Mickelson will probably never achieve the former sponsorship greatness of Woods because "Phil doesn't have that youthful aura that Tiger has."

But Schafer doesn't think that Woods will ever match his former glory, either.

"As far as Tiger goes, the decline that he took is as big as Kobe Bryant years ago, and Kobe's still trying to recover from that, in spite of winning an NBA championship," he said. To top of page

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