Friday, April 9, 2010

Polishing a Tarnished Image: Nike's New Tiger Ad

I must admit that when the sex scandal with Tiger Woods began, I hesitated to talk about it with anyone- even close friends. While any person can try to sit back and place judgment on his infidelity, the only people who ever really deserve an apology from Woods are his family members who were directly hurt by his actions. Yet, because he chose to accept endorsement dollars from brands like Nike and Buick and because his anointed title of ROLE MODEL, Mr. Woods does have to acknowledge and answer to questionable behavior that tarnishes his shiny image as well as any brand that has hitched its wagon to him.

Unlike many of his other endorsers, Nike stuck by Woods. At the end of the day, Nike is about sports and, while Tiger Woods won't get a Husband of the Year award, he could still win the Augusta Masters and that coveted green jacket for a 5th time.

So, Nike found themselves facing the dilemma of how to reintroduce Woods to consumers and fans. On August 8th, moments before Woods premiered at the Masters, Nike put out this ad with the voice of Woods' dead father and mentor, Earl, being the only words you hear:

The sum total of this commercial is unforgettable: stark black and white with the golf champion looking rest-broken and somewhat scolded while Earl Woods asks, "did you learn anything?"

The public reaction has been "creepy," "moving," "disturbing," "bizarre," "genius," "obvious!" I don't think Nike intended to just play the dead daddy card. The idea seems to be to show an introspective and embarrassed Tiger Woods post-scandal, post thinking about how he has disappointed the people who matter to him most, and ready to return to sports and the golf course and do again what he does best. Be an athlete.

I find this to be a smart commercial. There was no Woods' ad Nike was ever going to be able to put out into the world that wasn't going to upset some people. At least this one attempts to bring Tiger Woods full circle and it also shows how (through Earl Woods' own words) his father would have judged him. In fact, it seems that his father was less about accusation and more inquiry. Perhaps Nike is urging us to do the same and simply ask Tiger, "did you learn anything?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GigaOm on how Nike Hits Gold with Tiger Woods' ad through viral/social media (NY Times):