Nike, McIlroy Take Long Perspective

Nike, McIlroy Take Long Perspective

What do you get for $100 million? By spending that kind of money on an endorsement deal for Rory McIlroy, Nike NKE -0.36% hoped that it was buying the ability to talk to a highly competitive global market comprising 55 million golfers with the current generation's most charismatic player for a mouthpiece. But first, Nike has to hope that McIlroy's form improves. Quickly.

The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, whose deal with Nike is reported to be worth at least $100 million over the next five years, missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday, his first outing as a Nike pitchman. Worse still, in a desperate attempt to make the weekend, McIlroy gave up on his new sponsor's putter—the Nike Method—and went back to his tried and trusted short stick, one designed by Scotty Cameron and made by Nike's archrival of the golf manufacturing world, Titleist.

This won't have pleased Nike's marketing department, but there are bigger battles to be won.

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