Lots of discussion this week regarding the Nike’s new Tiger Woods commercial I’m a bit torn. Well, not so much torn as contradicted.
I hate the execution. But I admire Nike for doing something.
I admire them because they’ve been nothing if not consistent. The first Nike spot featuring Tiger – ‘Hello World’ – clearly established a bigger agenda for Tiger and the brand. Tiger was never going to be about just golf and Nike embraced this. To confront the issue he’s dealing with, which again is clearly bigger than golf, feels reasonable, genuine in fact, given that history.
Nike also stuck by Tiger. They were one of the few sponsors to unequivocally support him, to have a view, whether you liked it or not, about how they saw his indiscretions. So again it seems genuine for them to support him in this way, too.
This was the biggest return to sport I can remember. Thursday at the Masters was huge. It would actually seem odd for Nike not to have had something to say about it, even though it would possibly have been easier to just say nothing. So I also admire Nike for fronting up, for doing this knowing that it would annoy, and probably offend, a lot of people. But I like that Nike is prepared to put the focus on its core audience, knowing that anyone who’s really aggrieved about it was never a ‘Nike person’ to begin with. There aren’t many brands that would have that conviction.
And it’s compelling viewing. Like it or not, it’s hard to look away from, and it’s even harder to not have an opinion about.
But there’s one reason why I don’t like the execution.
I don’t like the way they’ve appropriated his Father. He’s dead. Who knows what his thoughts on Tiger’s behaviour might be? He might (and I think this is just possible) be massively disappointed, dismayed that a son he once predicted would do ‘more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity’ has instead done something tediously tawdry and commonplace. What I would imagine his Father would not be is largely detached. It seems unlikely he’d be mildly curious to understand ‘what you’re thinking was’. It seems more likely he’d be pretty angry.
But I don’t know that. And nor does Nike. Which is why I think it’s pretty offensive that they’ve assumed any kind of view on his behalf.
I say make the ad. Continue to explore what it is to be a sportsman living a life that’s so much bigger than sport. Tackle the subjects that are easier left alone. Support Tiger in whatever way you feel is right.
Just don’t appropriate a dead man’s voice to do it.