Any colour, as long as it's austere

Thursday, 12 December 2019 08:56 pm

The golfer, the leader, his wife and her toy-boy

The golfer, the leader, his wife and her toy-boy


What is a word cloud?

Word clouds are graphics that show how often individual words appear in a given piece of text. The larger the word in the graphic, the more instances of the word in the text.


Word cloud 1

Word cloud 1

Word cloud 2

Word cloud 2


Word clouds produced in

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The golfer, the leader, his wife and her toy-boy (and some cocktail waitresses)

Such are the delicious details of the recent Tiger Woods and Iris Robinson sex scandals, it's no wonder they have rarely been out of the tabloids since Miss Grubbs the waitress revealed all. That their reputations still hang in the balance makes their stories even more addictive. But could the schadenfreude we feel be more to do with the holier-than-thou brands they represented than genuine malice towards them as human beings? And did their initial public statements after the event do anything to restore their brands? Jenny Rivarola reports.

Cloud 1. Tiger Woods – keeping it all in
[Statements published on his website, 2 & 3 December 2009]

If one were to use this cloud as an eye test, then even the severely myopic would spot ‘family’. It basks confidently like a large fish pondering which of the countless minnows it will feast on first. “I have let my family down...” he begins, and goes on to say the word 11 times. What can we deduce from this? Perhaps that Tiger’s advisers believed it to be the main tenet of the all-American hero image on which his backers depended. That if the family weathered the storm, the love rat at its centre would be able to salvage most of the $110 million worth of sponsorship deals he pockets annually.

But there is little to suggest Tiger has been well advised at all. The second most prominent word is ‘privacy’ (4). It is surely well known that brand damage limitation is rarely achieved by keeping schtumm. Most of the text focuses on his ‘right’ to deal with the matter ‘‘behind closed doors’’ in a “safe haven”. And he labours the same point when referring to feelings that should be ‘shared’ (2) by his family ‘alone’ (2)”.

It seems the Tiger brand (clean-living; family man; high performance; cool dude) has survived all these years only because he rarely spoke. The fact that the tardily-issued statements only appeared on his website has maintained an ill-judged remoteness. And the silence continues. At time of going to press, the news archive on Woods’ site is mysteriously inaccessible (I sourced the statements from the press) and the only news piece for January – ‘Tiger dominated golf world over last decade’ – reads like an obituary.

As for the man himself, he is receiving treatment for sex addiction in a Mississippi clinic. That may not bring back Gillette, AT&T, Accenture (‘Go on, be a Tiger’ – oops) or GM (whose car he smashed up). But Nike Golf and EA with its Tiger videogame – both of whom have the advantage that their products are golf-focused rather than Tiger-the-man-focused – will just be hoping he returns to the tour soonest.

Cloud 2. Iris Robinson – letting it all hang out
[Statement issued to the media, 6 January 2010]

As for Mrs Robinson, several key words blink out, making it easy to absorb the message subliminally with no need to read the text itself. We immediately get that it’s a messed up ‘life’ (7), full of ‘hurt’ (6) and ‘mental’ (4) anguish.

So what is the brand here that needs to be protected? It’s not hers, nor harder-than-Paisley Peter Robinson’s, but the God-fearing Democratic Unionist Party itself. ‘What to get her to say?’ The party faithful must have asked each other as they sipped their cod liver oil. That’s it – she’ll have to plead insanity! The ‘illness’ (6) she says “altered my mood and personality” (diminished responsibility), “I saw plots where none existed” (right now I’m a real nutter), but it was “out of character” (I wasn’t a nutter when I joined the Party) and “I am determined to regain my health and strength” (the Party might forgive a nutter, but never a quitter). Oh, and even though I tried to kill myself afterwards (dodgy... isn’t suicide a sin?), the affair “had no emotional or lasting meaning” (how could it, when I’m married to Saint Peter?)

Unlike the reclusive Tiger, Iris has not just ‘family’ (6) but also ‘friends’ (5). Let’s hope some are the kind who secretly say to her, ‘Good on yer girl. Sure you had to pay him, but hell, what was he like?’.

Brand development

As both of them entrust their damaged selves to brand-approved therapists, we are left wondering what next? For Iris, having been summarily divorced from the DUP, there might be a role in Desperate Housewives but most of all I’d back her doing a fabulous tango on Strictly. Will Tiger agree to Oprah Winfrey’s interview request? Better still for him, bring back Celebrity Big Brother specially – the ultimate penance.

Jenny Rivarola is a senior writer at Lang Communications. This article was first published in Communicate magazine under the headline Airing dirty linen.