DETROIT (AP) General Motors Corp. said Monday it is ending its nine-year endorsement deal with golf superstar Tiger Woods as the automaker continues to cut expenses and hoard cash while trying to survive the worst sales downturn in a quarter-century.
The cash-strapped company said in a statement that it is looking to reduce costs, and that Woods also wants more personal time as he expects his second child.
Woods has endorsed GM products around the world and mainly has been seen in Buick commercials as the company tried to give the nameplate a more youthful image.
“I am very proud of the long standing partnership I’ve had with GM and have enjoyed being a part of the company’s dramatic product evolution,” Woods said in a statement.
GM’s statement said the company and Woods agreed together to end the deal, and the separation was amicable.
GM has been making dramatic cuts in advertising as it tries to conserve cash. The nation’s largest automaker spent nearly $7 billion more than it took in last quarter and has warned that it may reach the minimum amount required to run the company by the end of the year without federal help.
Experts say a company that falls below minimum cash levels will have to stop paying some of its bills, a move that could force it into bankruptcy protection.
Mark LaNeve, GM’s vice president for North American marketing, said GM and Woods started discussing an end to the deal earlier this year, and it had nothing to do with GM’s quest for $25 billion in federal loans for the auto industry.
But the company’s statement said the decision was made as part of “the search for budget efficiencies during a difficult economy for General Motors.”
GM is so concerned about costs that it cut advertising during the 2009 Super Bowl, although it still plans to sponsor the National Football League and likely air ads before and after the game. GM also has pulled out of the Oscars and Emmy Awards in 2009 – the first time in over a decade that it is not running ads right before, during or after the two events.
U.S. automakers, the single largest category of advertisers, cut their ad spending 18 percent to $1.37 billion in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence in New York.
Foreign automakers also are trimming their spending on advertising in U.S. markets, with a 5.4 percent cut in the second quarter, for an overall 11 percent drop in U.S. auto ad spending to $3.27 billion, the 12th quarterly dip in a row.