Puzzling Over Intent Of Nike's Tiger Woods Ad

Nike has some guts.  It never backed down from keeping Tiger Woods, when all other Woods sponsors ran for cover.

Now, as one of the edgier TV marketers, it shows up the day before Woods return to the Masters with a commercial that features a voiceover of his late father, Earl Woods. 

Nike won't be selling many running shoes with this ad. The company's intent seems to be to get people to talk more about Woods -- and maybe Nike -- in any context. That goal has been fulfilled, with almost a million views on YouTube so far.

The commercial is a virtually static black-and-white shot of a sullen Woods, listening -- in theory -- to his father's inquiries.  Woods blinks some -- but that's it. (This static shot also seems a good anti-fast-fowarding move for the DVR).

Does it sell compassion, guilt with sympathy, forgiveness after recklessness... or golf caps? Some people already believe this ad is disrespectful and repugnant, exploiting what it shouldn't.



TV marketing executives say the American public can be a forgiving lot. Woods has come clean, apologized, and offered contriteness for his "horrible" behavior.

And, now, for good measure, Nike offers up even more. Nike doesn't want to move on yet to Woods swinging his clubs, making birdies and pumping fists. That's right. We haven't forgotten.

While the ad is intriguing, it's also a bit disturbing. You keep watching because it also seems like a commercial put together on a dare. And so you wait for an interesting kicker. But none comes.

Beyond the boldness of the commercial, Nike will need to offer some insight into revamping the Tiger Woods brand.

The crux of the message has the senior Woods asking young Woods -- "Did you learn anything?" There is no answer here; just more sullenness from Woods.  At the end we see just the Nike swoosh but no text, no "Just do it."

Maybe the answers are obvious. Then again, maybe another commercial is coming. But will this one also sell golf balls?

7 comments about "Puzzling Over Intent Of Nike's Tiger Woods Ad".
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  1. Casey Quinlan from Mighty Casey Media LLC, April 9, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.

    Tiger owes Nike a debt - I disagree with ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski that it makes Tiger look arrogant. That "did you learn anything?" closing line echoes what most people have wondered while observing the slo-mo train wreck that has been Tiger's recent history.

    I'd like to actually hear him ANSWER the question, but that he's willing to have it asked in that context says he's at least heard it.

  2. Aaron B. from, April 9, 2010 at 3 p.m.

    At least they were smart enough to use only the swoosh... perhaps realizing that the phrase "just do it" was a too ironic.

    In the end, Nike is just trying to nudge its investment back in the right direction.

  3. Al Haberstroh from MontAd, April 9, 2010 at 3:11 p.m.

    When I first saw the ad I thought, "what was Nike thinking"? Is Nike all about Tiger is it about selling golf shoes and equipment?

    The first research on the ads' effectiveness confirms my judgment. The report, published today by HCD Research showed Nike's favorability rank among viewers dropping 13% and 29% of ad viewers saying they are less likely to purchase Nike products as a result of the ad. Tiger's rank dropped only slightly, however.

    A March 2010 Harris poll shows that college educated and more affluent consumers are much more likely to avoid a brand whose ads they find distasteful. This, of course is the sweet spot target of Nike’s golf ads. If the idea of this ad was to elevate Nike's brand image, they scored a double bogey.

    Nike has such strong brand equity that they can easily survive this arrogant attachment to tainted Tiger. The question has to be, why did they "Just do it". Sorry Nike, sometimes you have to think first.

  4. Thomas Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, April 9, 2010 at 3:30 p.m.

    This is a bad and ill-conceived ad to begin with, but adding the dead dad V.O. is what makes it a flat-out disaster, along the lines of the racist Just for Feet or homophobic Snickers Super Bowl commercials.

    To incorporate Tiger's late father's comments about a completely different subject in order to rehabilitate their prized pitchman's rep is just flat out unforgivable. The fact that Earl Woods is on the record telling his son "marriage is unnecessary in a mobile society like ours" and apparently wasn't monogamous with Tiger's mom either [ ], makes this doubly shameless.

    If they HAD to do an ad that addressed Tiger's travails, the B&W closeup wasn't a bad idea to open, but he should've just said something like "I'm sorry I let you all down. But now I'm back to play golf. And win." Then he couldn't walked away from the camera as the screen goes full color, picked up a club and whacked the he11 out of a ball. Tiger = golfer. That's all that matters.

  5. Brian Hayashi from ConnectMe 360, April 9, 2010 at 3:39 p.m.

    It's a very metatextual ad, bringing the audience into Tiger's heretofore private relationship with his dad. In sharing his dad's expectations, it's as if Nike is asking the viewing audience to share in those same expectations...a message that will only resonate with the part of the audience that is more likely to give Tiger a second chance. (I realize that the message wasn't meant for Tiger...but it is consistent with the very demaanding father-son relationship.)

    The part of the audience that has already written Tiger off are great prospects for TiVo, if they don't already have it.

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 9, 2010 at 3:48 p.m.

    Is this where the term selling oneself soul (to the devil) comes into play? Dead to rites.

  7. Bailey Barash from bbarash productions, LLC, April 10, 2010 at 11:05 p.m.

    Should we assume Tiger was an accomplice to this ad? Would any son endorse the patchwork use of his dead father's voice and words to create a false message? We can't blame this ad on Tiger, but Nike needs to take a hit for manipulating a real person's real words without his permission and making a tasteless, gruesome ad.

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