NAGOYA, Japan – Tiger Woods has signed a three-year deal to promote a Japanese pain reliever, his first endorsement since he was caught in a sex scandal toward the end of 2009.
The deal with Kowa Company Ltd. is geared only toward the market in Japan. Woods already has filmed commercials for “Vantelin Kowa,” a heat rub used to relieve muscle and joint pain. The commercial is to be shown in Japan starting next month.
“When looking for a person for a new TV commercial for the Vantelin Kowa series, Kowa determined that Tiger Woods, with his No. 1 accomplishment as a golfer and his overwhelming presence, matches the promotional direction of the Vantelin Kowa series,” the company said in a press release. “And we asked Mr. Woods for his cooperation in our new TV commercial.”
Mark Steinberg, his agent, said it was a three-year deal that involves television, print and Internet ads in Japan. He did not disclose how much the company is paying Woods.
Woods once had an endorsement portfolio worth nearly $90 million a year. But failures in his personal life led to Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade dropping him as a sponsor, and Gillette deciding not to renew its deal.
“I’m not looking at this as his first deal, or a second deal,” Steinberg said Wednesday. “I look at this as showing he’s a global attraction. I expect to have some other announcements by the balance of the year.”
Steinberg said an endorsement for Woods’ golf bag – he has been without one since he returned to golf at the 2010 Masters – was not necessarily the highest priority. He said he was in discussion with various companies, but any deal probably would wait until after Woods gets back to competition.
Woods has not played since May 12, when he withdrew after nine holes from The Players Championship with knee and Achilles injuries. He said Tuesday he had no timetable for his return, only that it would not happen until he was fully healthy.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is sidelined after elbow reconstruction surgery, has also promoted the Vantelin heat rub on Japanese TV.
This isn’t the first time Woods has endorsed products in Japan. He appeared in commercials for canned iced coffee in the late 1990s.