Even before Tiger Woods granted two brief TV interviews on March 21 to discuss his return to the games, Nielsen data from January 29 through March 19 shows that golf returned as the most relevant topic surrounding Woods in online conversations.
Since Tiger's troubles began last Thanksgiving, online conversation surrounding Woods shifted quickly to scandal coverage laced with strong negative sentiment. Data visualized through the Nielsen Brand Association Map, which tracks phrases and topics closely associated with brand mentions, illustrates how Tiger Woods discussion has now split into three stories: Woods’ return to golf at the Masters Tournament, continued coverage of the scandal, and Woods’ line of golf video games.
Tiger’s reputation as an international sports star still has ground to make up. A Brand Association Map measuring online conversation before the scandal shows how Tiger was linked to lofty terms such as “Best”, “Great”, “Win”, and “Impressive.” With the exception of “Winner”, the current Golf conversation revolves around Tiger’s return and not necessarily his abilities.
In the early days of the scandal, words like “adultery” and “cheater” were closely related to the sports icon. The recent change in discussion focus can be seen as an improvement to sentiment about Woods and his overall reputation, a key issue where his remaining sponsors are concerned.
Video games have re-entered the most relevant discussion thanks to continuing hype for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. Much like Golf discussion, the lack of topic blend with the scandal may show an improvement in Woods’ reputation. However, video game discussion has yet to return to the level of relevance to Tiger Woods that it had before the scandal broke.