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Responsible Marketing

Responsible or not? Nike resurrects Earl Woods

By April 8, 2010August 6th, 20206 Comments

Just in time for Tiger Woods’ return to golf at The Masters, Nike has released the following ad featuring the voice of Tiger’s deceased father, Earl:

Here’s what Earl is saying:

Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?

On the surface it may seem like a bit of a head-scratcher for Nike: Woods’ father wasn’t faithful, either.

But consider this: Most of Tiger’s sponsors have bailed except Nike and it’s in their best interest to see him restored. This video shows a remorseful Woods looking his fans straight in the eye. By approving and participating in this ad, he’s showing he hasn’t forgotten his roots. That he knows his father wouldn’t approve. And that he’s learned something.

Opinions are polarized from the general public. Here are two from YouTube:

This is brilliant, Nike’s invested too much time and money into Tiger Woods to not do something like this. I give this a thumbs up with the reasoning that it isn’t often a sponsor will put money into saving a sports figure. And I think Tiger approving of it means he’s really showing the amount of change he’s willing to make to appear as an honourable sports figure again. I LIKE THIS. ~nboysis

Corporate damage control and a well-orchestrated PR campaign. And who really knows what Earl would say? He’s DEAD. Now? Tiger and Nike are bringing him back from the dead to pimp him out for greed. Poor taste Tiger….you would come across better by keeping a low profile in my opinion and working on your marriage to save your image, not your corporate whores. ~zenstate

So, is Nike’s new Tiger ad responsible or not? What say you?

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Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Martin says:

    Like everything off the course in Tiger’s world it’s phony, canned, manipulative and insincere.

    Tiger should do the one thing he does well, play golf, and just shut the hell up. He’s a legendary athlete and he should be free to play and dominate without being harassed, but I’m not buying his fake spin.

    Everything that comes out of his mouth is nothing but carefully crafted nonsense by his PR team or in this case Nike’s ad agency.

  • Conrad says:

    Patrick – standing by Tiger was a brilliant, almost zero risk move from Nike when it comes to their core golf-buying fans. They now have almost (EA Sports exception) exclusive access to Tiger as a spokesman and they’ll get plenty of publicity out of this media circus. And the brilliant advertising minds at WK (I think) use creative to take the bite out of using Tiger. Absolute worst case, Tiger folds personally and/or athletically and Nike walks away quietly.


  • Yep, it’s Weiden + Kennedy. Totally see your point regarding the upside for Nike. But Martin’s comment is proof that it’s almost impossible to extricate Tiger (the athlete) from Tiger (the brand). And it’s pretty tough to talk about this ad on a purely strategic level, too.

  • While I don’t agree with the content and how it was executed, I do agree with making Tiger’s issues transparent. From a Public Relations standpoint, it is a smart thing to do. However, I think transparency can be accomplished in many different ways and I think Nike’s choice was not the greatest. I think if they want to change his image with the public, it could have been done in a more effective manner.

  • In my opinion, this video does not show the remorse that so many people are taking it as… I can somewhat grasp the concept, and think it IS creative, but how effective is this, truly? Remorse? Really? I see a stoic face that blinks a few times, with a couple of minor furrows in between the eyebrows. PR probably told him which face to wear, and This particular face isn’t speaking to me of regret, remorse, apology, ‘conversation with dad’, etc… Did Nike do well in this ad? Only time will tell… but if an audience wants to see remorse on Tiger Woods’ face, he needs to work it a little more…

  • The problem is we didn’t think Tiger was a scoundrel and he turns out to be one.

    There are plenty of high-profile athletes who are “as bad” if not worse than Tiger – who still carry sponsorships and aren’t apologizing for their behavior. We simply didn’t expect this behavior from someone we perceived as squeaky clean.

    While I don’t condone Tiger’s behavior, he didn’t break the law with his behavior. (Versus athletes who are dog fighting, drunk driving, smoking pot, beating their spouse, etc).

    At some point – like it or not – Tiger was going to come back. In time, when we hear his name we will think of ‘golfer’ before we do ‘cheater.’

    Finally… interesting play there with Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.” While not mentioned… Tiger’s problem is that he “did it” way WAY too many times. The flip side… getting in front of the camera and literally ‘facing’ your audience saying (in a way) “sorry” is also “Just Do It” advice/behavior.

    Thanks for posting this ad.

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