SBD/March 28, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Talk Of The Town: Nike Still Reaping Benefits From Tiger Ad Released Earlier This Week

Controversy around Nike's ad might be good for the company, but bad for Woods
Tiger Woods is the favorite to win the Masters next month after returning to the top position in the World Golf Rankings, and Nike with its controversial new ad "wants to make sure as many people know about it as possible," according to Mark Purdy of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. Purdy: "Mission accomplished." The ad was released following Woods' win Monday in the PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational, and Purdy writes, "I think we can see what's going on here." It is hard to think Woods "does not get the final say on what Nike does." However, it is "possible that Woods meant the quote strictly in relation to his game and that Nike happily used it to imply a broader context" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/28). The N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola said, “What Nike’s doing is they want people to talk about it, which we’re doing right now." But the N.Y. Daily News’ Ryan Asselta asked, “How involved was Tiger in the making of this ad? Because if he was involved it screams of he’s just rubbing it in every one’s face.” SportsNet N.Y.’s Jonas Schwartz said it was “clumsy PR by Tiger” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 3/27). FOXSPORTS.com's Jen Floyd Engel wrote the controversy around the ad is "good for Nike, not so good for their guy." This is "just another in a long list of recent examples of how Nike has lost its soul." Engel: "What I do not understand is what is in this for Tiger" (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/27).

SOME THINGS CANNOT BE ERASED:  CBS Sports Network's Jim Rome said, "That spot is supposed to be some kind of ‘how do you like our boy now?’ viral fist pump. But to many it’s a viral insult that makes it seem like all you have to do is scrape together a few wins and your filthy, extramarital transgressions are wiped clean” ("Rome," CBSSN, 3/27). ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said, "When you say winning takes care of everything, how do you think his wife feels or his two kids? ... I’ve got a little bit of a have a problem with that, and I imagine his family does too." L.A. Time columnist Bill Plaschke said, "This is not surprising they would do this. I think it’s wrong. I think it goes beyond the border of bad taste. ... But that’s Nike. Under Armour is pushing them right now. They’re trying to stay on top” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/27). In Portland, Steve Duin writes what is “most striking” about the campaign is its “appalling insincerity.” Nike in the past has used ads that “appeal to the best in us,” but this ad “celebrates the insipid worst, and does so with a punchline Nike knows to be untrue.” Duin: “I'd be stunned if anyone ... believes that conceit says anything important about the religion of Nike or the redemption of Tiger Woods.” So “why in the world is Nike marketing this tripe?” (Portland OREGONIAN, 3/28).

WINNING CURES ALL? SPORTS ON EARTH's Will Leitch writes the "real reason it's becoming acceptable to cheer for Tiger again is not because he has a scrubby-clean new famous athlete girlfriend, or because we as an American culture love giving second chances." It is because Woods is "winning again." More than "anything else, we love a winner," and it is "time to be honest about that" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 3/28). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "Winning does take care of everything, and there have been variations on this theme, on that phrase, for a hundred years that neither Nike nor Tiger Woods first uttered. Every great athlete every generation says something like ‘winning takes care of everything.’ So now we are supposed to be up in arms because it’s an ad slogan?” ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "In the real world, winning doesn't take care of everything." He added, "I understand this is a Tiger Woods quote having to do with getting the No. 1 ranking back. ... But there’s a larger context when you are as large as Tiger Woods” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/27). But ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley said, “We’re not talking about ‘winning takes care' of your entire life. We have gotten lost in that perception. It’s about him as a golfer” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 3/27).

TAKING A LOOK IN THE MIRROR
: ADWEEK's David Gianatasio wrote the ad is a "blip that quickly stirs passions but has no lasting effect." It will "be all but forgotten" by next week, and Woods and Nike "will carry on." However, in a "larger and more intriguing sense, the story is a microcosm of the state and price of fame in the digital media landscape." If you start "winning in the public eye and achieve some notoriety, you'd better take care and be on your guard about everything, because legions are eagerly watching and waiting and we'll pounce at the slightest provocation." This says "a lot less about Woods, Lance Armstrong or other tarnished icons than it does about the rest of us, who live vicariously to varying degrees through such 'heroes and villains.'" Gianatasio: "We cheer on Woods, Armstrong and the rest when they triumph, and weep at their defeats. We damn them when they fall from grace and welcome them back with accolades and big-bucks sponsorships when they've reformed enough for our liking" (ADWEEK.com, 3/27). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, "That’s an American mantra that winning cures all, and that’s basically what he’s trying to reflect. We all know what he went through and we would certainly argue against that, but he is just reflecting culture" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/27).
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