I Am Prone to be Inquisitive…

In Brand Management on April 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

The media has been a buzz today with Tiger Woods “teeing it up” again on the golf course at one of the most prestigious golf tournaments known to man. Prior to Woods ever stepping foot on the course today at Augusta, the buzz began with his new Nike ad. Unless you have been under a rock, you have seen this ad or at least heard about it. If you want to see the ad, it can already be seen on

The voice that you hear in the ad is that of his deceased father Earl Woods. We have all disappointed a parent or a coach at some point in our lives. Chances are, you can still remember the speech that was delivered to you. In the case of Woods, his father more or less served as both to him.  Granted the speech that is played over the Woods ad is from a previous statement from the late Earl Woods, one can’t help to wonder if this is what Tiger is imagining his father saying to him everyday. Most of us have this concept that our lost loved ones are watching us from heaven and often wonder, “are they proud of my accomplishments?” If we imagine they see our successes, then we must also imagine they see our failures. In this case, I don’t doubt that Tiger feels that he has let down his deceased father as well as his, mother, children, and especially his wife.

I don’t think this is an ad to necessarily promote Nike shoes or apparel. I think this ad was meant to be thought-provoking. I am also confident that Nike knows that running this ad is very controversial. Do you remember Nike’s ads about Charles Barkley not being a role model? Or how about Nike’s ads asking what Lance Armstrong is on? Nike has been on the cutting edge of marketing, advertising, and PR since they began advertising in 1982. And to be on that edge, sometimes you have to step on a few toes. They have also been very loyal to the athletes they sponsor over the years. It’s these athletes who have afforded them the brand they have become today. Nike’s big rival in the 80s was Reebok. Nike differentiated themselves by promoting status over product. Who was wearing Nikes, not what the shoe was made of or how it performed.

Finally, most of America has already played council, judge, and jury in Tiger’s case. Most people either still love him or hate him. That’s not who the ad is targeting. It is targeting the fence sitter. Those who have not made up their mind yet. If you think about it, that is why we advertise in the first place. To help prospective customers make a decision. The ad is meant to show us the human side of Tiger. If you watch him on the golf course, he almost wins as if he were a machine. If you’ve ever heard a press conference or an interview, you might question if he is human or a robot. This ad attempts to connect with its audience on an emotional level. Not to mention, most people probably heard about the ad ten times before they actually saw it with their own eyes.

This post is not meant to judge Tiger in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Honestly, I disagree with Tiger’s infidelity (anybody’s for that matter). But to tell you the truth, I don’t know Tiger, so it really does not matter to me on a personal level. I just wanted to give you (my audience) an objective look at this controversial advertisement and pose a question to you. What would you do if you were approached by Tiger to revamp his image? The truth is, this happens in our world more than we know and it does affect the public persona of the brands you represent. What if the companies you work with and for came to you with a similar situation? How would you handle their campaign?

Let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.


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