Many are talking about the new Nike commercial featuring Tiger Woods and the ghost-like voice of his father Earl Woods.
In this spot, Tiger stares at us with great sadness while his father says the following: “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. Did you learn anything?”
See the ad for yourself.
Many say they are revolted after seeing this spot. They feel Nike and Tiger are exploiting Earl Woods.
My view: the spot is brilliant… but also brilliantly ill-timed.
We all knew Tiger and his father were close. Earl Woods was Tiger’s most trusted advisor and mentor. To have his voice as Tiger’s conscience seems fitting.
The problem here lies in the timing and the context.
Tiger has done nothing yet to demonstrate that he’s transformed himself. He hasn’t proven a thing and nor has he done anything to earn back our respect and admiration.
The essence of a brand is found in the doing, not in the telling. Tell me you are remorseful all you want. Suggest to me that you have learned from your mistakes all you want. You won’t convince me.
However, if I can see through your actions that you’re truly in the midst of a transformation… if I can see great work by you on behalf of all those who benefit from your Foundation… if I can see that you are acting true to your message and your drive to live your life with integrity… then, and only then, I will begin to believe that you have learned something.
The words don’t match the message and the reality in this Nike spot.
But with more time, Tiger might indeed match his actions to his father’s powerful words. And then we wouldn’t necessarily need to have a remorseful shot of Tiger Woods staring back at us. Instead, we might see a different Tiger Woods, a humble giant in world of golf, a person just like any one of us who is susceptible to mistakes, who has, to paraphrase his own words, started to show that he has learned how to help himself so he can help other people.
Perhaps Nike has a grand plan behind this spot? Perhaps this spot is going to set the tone for follow-up spots? That would make more sense. But in today’s context, where Tiger has yet to do anything substantial to earn back our respect and trust, this spot is difficult to embrace wholeheartedly.
What do you think? Do you find this spot reprehensible or genius? Does it touch you or disgust you? Would Nike have been better advised to hold off on a spot like this until Tiger has had a chance to walk his talk?