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Tiger Woods’s New Nike Ad: Brilliant Branding or Just Plain Offensive?

“Did you learn anything?”

That is one of the questions that viewers hear the voice of Earl Woods (now deceased) ask his son Tiger in a recent Nike commercial. His voice is dubbed over the black and white video of Tiger Woods, who stands like a mannequin and stares sadly into the camera but never says a word. If you haven’t seen the commercial, you should check it out:

What are your first impressions of this Nike advertisement? Initially, I didn’t know what to think of the ad and I thought: “What does this have to do with golf or with Nike?” You may have had a similar reaction, and that’s only logical. However, I started to think a bit differently after viewing the commercial a few more times because Tiger’s haunting image stuck with me and just wouldn’t let go.

I would be lying if I said I don’t feel a bit sorry for Tiger Woods; after all, he’s not the only athlete, celebrity, or person to make a mistake and get caught. He’s only human, and that’s what I like about the Nike ad – it seems to humanize him rather than depict him as a superstar. Whether we want to believe it or not, celebrities aren’t superhuman. When you strip them down to their cores, they are just regular people like you or me…and everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. I believe that’s what this Nike ad is attempting to convey.

BUT…what exactly does this ad have to do with Nike? Well, other than the Nike hat and vest that Tiger sports in the video – nothing. It may be a bit unorthodox, but it’s still effective branding for Nike; the two Nike logos are visible for the entire duration and they’re emblazoned in your mind because Tiger barely moves. Plus, I found that the black and white contrast made the Nike logos pop out even more (if it had been in color, there wouldn’t have been as much of an impact). Not to mention, all of the buzz about this ad is probably generating a ton of interest in the Nike brand!

One of the most controversial topics regarding Nike’s ad is the use of Earl Woods’s voice. Some see it as an offensive attempt to inspire sympathy in viewers, and some see it as truly touching. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that aspect of the ad. I think it makes the advertisement more personal because it reveals an aspect of Tiger’s life that may not have been exposed otherwise, but I can also see why it makes people uneasy. What do you think about this ad’s inclusion of Earl Woods’s voice?

I don’t know much about golf, but I do know a bit about branding – and I see Nike’s ad as both interesting and thought-provoking. Is it the most wonderful branding attempt in the history of advertising? No. Is it going to face unanimous praise by the general public? Probably not. However, it is getting people to talk about Nike (A LOT) and it reinforces Tiger Woods’s association with the brand, which means that it’s effective. There’s no doubt in my mind that people will be talking about this Nike ad for many years to come!

What are your thoughts on Nike’s advertisement? Did your opinion of Tiger Woods sway one way or another after seeing this commercial? Let us know by leaving your comments below. Thanks for reading the Quality Logo Products® blog!


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  1. Barbara

    Unfortunately it sways me away from Woods. I was beginning to think his apologies were sincere and he was honestly confronting the questions people had, but it now looks like it may have all been in preparation for him to rejoin the Nike group. I didn’t buy a lot of Nike before, and I probably still won’t…

    • QLP Jill

      I don’t buy a lot of Nike, either, so the ad doesn’t really sway me one way or another in that respect. I did find the ad very interesting in the sense that it had the “WTF?!?” factor from people, which seems to be inspiring a lot of conversation about the brand and about Tiger himself. Thanks for the comment, I love getting feedback from others!

  2. Tammi Kibler

    I like that Tiger remains silent in the commercial. This seems to acknowledge that nothing he can say excuses his behavior.

    I like that we are left with the question, “Did you learn anything?” He cannot undo what he did, at best he can learn from his mistakes.

    I think using his father’s voice was a brilliant strategy to try to recoup some family value cache for the brand. Tiger may have failed as a husband but apparently he is still a guy who can shut up and listen to his father (or so it appears.) I think it is a brave move on Tiger’s part as well, not many people of his stature can humble themselves this way.

    • QLP Jill

      That’s an excellent point, Tammi! I hadn’t thought about either Tiger’s silence OR about the use of his father’s voice that way, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I can’t help but wonder if people would react more positively to a blatant “I’m so sorry for what I did” message…but I think this method was far more original and far more effective. I’ve even heard some naysayers claim that Tiger’s “apology” is similar to OJ Simpson’s, but I don’t agree with that at all!

      Thanks for your comment, for reading our blog, and for following us on Twitter! I’m happy that you’re finding value in our posts. 🙂

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