General Motors will end a nine-year endorsement partnership with professional golfer Tiger Woods on Dec. 31, a year earlier than scheduled, GM said today.
A joint statement by GM and Woods called the separation mutual and amicable. The announcement is not related to GMs plea to Congress for emergency financial aid, the company said.
The winner of 65 PGA Tour events and 14 major championships, Woods is arguably the greatest, most well-compensated endorser in the world. His five-year, $40 million deal with GM is part of his nearly $100 million in annual endorsement deals with Nike, EA Sports, American Express and Tag Heuer, among others.
This decision is the result of discussions that started earlier in the year, and the timing of this agreement with these other activities is purely coincidental, said Mark LaNeve, GMs vice president of North American marketing.
Although Woods has endorsed GM vehicles around the world, he has been most closely associated with the Buick brand in North America and China.
Woods current contract with GM, which began in 2005, was scheduled to expire Dec. 31, 2009, GM spokesman Pete Ternes said. His previous contract ran from 2000 through 2004. Terms were not available.
Besides GM's cut in marketing spending, Wood also wanted out because he "was interested in reducing his appearance times because his second child is on the way," Ternes said.
In 2000, the first year of the endorsement deal, Buick sold 404,612 new cars and trucks in the United States. Last year, the brand had 185,791 U.S. new-vehicle sales.
Carter Myers, owner of Carter Myers Automotive in Charlottesville, Va., said: I really liked him on that, but it was probably pretty expensive. Id rather have the money go into product and have a viable company than paying him, but I did like him a lot.
Mark Steinberg, a spokesman for Woods, did not immediately respond to questions about whether Woods plans to endorse another auto brand.
The statement noted that GM is looking for budget efficiencies during a difficult economy.
GM has cut back on other high-profile marketing efforts. The company has said it will not advertise during next years Super Bowl and Academy Awards telecasts.
Advertising Age contributed to this report