February 12, 2010 / 11:48 PM / 10 years ago

Tiger did not help Buick sales - GM vice chairman

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb 12 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods may have been the world’s best golfer when he was endorsing Buick automobiles, but he did little to help sell cars, General Motors Co [GM.UL] Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said on Friday.

“We weren’t too lucky with Tiger Woods,” said Lutz when asked if Buick would advertise by tapping a celebrity as Chevrolet has used former NFL player Howie Long to highlight differences between Chevrolet and competitors Honda (7267.T) and Toyota (7203.T).

Later, asked by reporters if it was true that Woods did not boost Buick sales, Lutz said, “I don’t think so.”

He added: “Maybe we didn’t have him say the right things at the time. So it’s at least partially our fault.”

GM dropped Woods as a pitchman in a cost-savings move in November 2008, a full year before the golfer’s public image suffered with a car crash at his luxury home near Orlando and his subsequent admission of extramarital affairs.

The automaker ended its relationship with Woods one month before it received the first tranche of a federal government bailout in December 2008, and six months before the No. 1 U.S. automaker fell into a government-supported bankruptcy.

When GM ended its endorsement deal with Woods a year early, it was worth an estimated $8 million annually.

In August 2009, GM announced the end of its sponsorship of two major Professional Golf Association tournaments, the Buick Invitational and the Buick Open.

Lutz was discussing strategies for GM advertising after a speech to a group of auto dealers at a J.D. Power and Associates conference in Orlando. [ID:nN12147310] (Reporting by Bernie Woodall, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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