Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tiger Woods Nike Spot. A Creepy Home Run.

Time sure moves fast.

Two weeks ago it seemed the world stopped for about 3 days when Nike launched a rather interesting "comeback" ad for Tiger Woods duringthe Masters Golf Tournament and now nowhere a word.
I took a week to post my thoughts and post my appearance on SUNTV just to see what the "big" picture would be.

What if Tiger won the Masters?

How would the days following the Masters treat the spot?

Well the answer can be summed up in five words, "He didn't and who cares".

Do you remember who actually won? No, it was Phil Mickelson and when it ended we saw what the PGA and the Masters organizers who needed to do for their own PR efforts, did so. As the ball found the cup, Phil's three small kids dashed out to the 18th green to greet dad and with his wife Amy and they hugged. It was a scene out of a Disney movie, really; Amy, a woman fighting breast cancer and all its medical meanness, weary, dabbing her cheeks with a napkin, waving to the crowd; Phil walking alongside her, teary-eyed himself. Only someone without a heart would find it hard to control their emotions. Tiger at that moment was being interviewed by CBS saying, "I never entered a tournament to lose". Cold.

I was wondering how Nike would handle Tiger's comeback, but I never thought it would be with this "message".

Here's what it comes down to. The emotional side says, "totally creepy" and "poor taste". Rational side says, a total "grand slam home run".

What is brilliant is the media buying efforts. The spot aired only on ESPN and the Golf Channel during the opening round of the Masters. Both the first days of the tourney are lower costs for media placement, but the news worthy elements of the spot made it the massive "Home Run" that it became. Rumors have it that the spot achieve over $200 Million in "non-measured" media exposure with the first 48 hours of airing.


The "first" spot after a crisis, the scandal, whatever you want to call it, how do you or would you kick start what is truly "the brand" for golf at Nike? Tiger is worth over $100 million every year and Nike has a lot invested in Tiger. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, stated that his company would stand behind Tiger, and made that statement within days of the first news reports of his marital problems. Nike's presence in the golfing world, its relentless march to dominate, is due, in large part, to Tiger's winning ways. He's the most dominant golfer of our generation and he's "just doing it" in Nike golf gear, and Nike Golf is generating $725 million in sales, after less than 10 years in the golf business. That's a why they stood by... very basic, very simple and worth saving.

In response to queries regarding the ad, Nike issued a brief statement saying, "We support Tiger and his family. As he returns to competitive golf, the ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father."

Simply put, do the math. It's worthy millions of dollars. The "event" took place at Thanksgiving", at that point production of the 2010 golf line for Nike was well under way of in foreign lands. Hat, shoes, clubs and balls. With the Golf Show season about to start in mid-December there was NO WAY out for Nike. Tiger is Nike golf. For Buick, American Express and others their brands didn't have such a deep connection.

It's the same reason that videogame maker Electronic Arts (EA Sports) who also launched a campaign and game the same week featuring Woods has remained. It is impossible to redesign, animate and repackage your entire golf game product. The campaign is a online effort to promote its latest game, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online." One banner ad showed Tiger Woods, in his familiar red shirt, doing a celebratory fist pump.


So Nike took the "we can make it right, but we can make it okay", really that's my take on it. Nike can't scold Tiger, nor should they. The Nike ad created by Wieden + Kennedy and in so many ways takes on a a "documentary" feel, rather than the typical a commercial one. It feels like remorse is in the air, damn, Tiger even manages to blinks a few times in this commercial. But it really comes down to the relationship he had with his late father Earl.Yup, that's where the spot takes a walk down "creepy street". Earl Woods who died in 2006, is summoned from beyond the grave to quiz his son. Earl says he wants to understand "what your thinking was" and "what your feelings are" and, as the camera comes in, even closer, Tiger blinks when his father asks, "if you learned anything." Sorry, beyond the grave appearance is one thing, asking him "if you learned anything"... please Earl, not buying it after you had your own skirt chasing moments. Yes, Earl Woods apparently had a checkered history in the fidelity department. The actual audio selected is truly creepy, the whole "Earl/Daddy" voice-over has been taken out of context, the audio used was originally Earl talking about the differences between he and his wife.


You gotta love this "capture the moment" effort. Le Tigre, a polo shirt maker with no financial ties to Tiger Woods used a guerrilla marketing effort playing off the situation, Le Tigre unveiled this billboard in New York to coincide with Woods return during The Masters. The billboard features a red Le Tigre golf polo and the tagline "Golf's Original Tiger. For Those Who Play A Round."

 The billboard, located on the West Side of Manhattan. This is the second Le Tigre Tiger-related billboard. In December, a billboard featured the slogan "Golf Needs a Tiger. Let's Get Back on Course."


I had the pleasure to be a guest "expert" on the nightly "live" news show Canoe Live that airs in Toronto on SUNTV. Host Jacqui Delaney offered up a summary before sending off to Martin Waxman of Pallette Public Relations (left) and myself on the right.  A little early miss identification, yup that's me in the blue rugby shirt - sorry mom they called on a non-teaching day and that's what I wore.

Enjoy the conversation.

1 comment:

Dusik said...

I think it's a great way to not hide the issue, rather deal with it. From an ad-ing perspective.

I never saw this commercial though :)

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