Through all of Tiger Woods' scandals, Nike have stayed with him. Other sponsors disappeared, but when he made his big apology, they were sitting in the front row. And now they're taking their pound of flesh. It may be mawkish, and a bit dark, but he wouldn't be doing it if he wasn't comfortable with it – and there's no question that this is a piece of advertising genius.
As this saga has developed we've watched Tiger casting himself upon the mercy of the cameras – a kind of therapy in the public eye. This continues that theme. It's like it's from In The Psychiatrist's Chair. But it's not what anyone would have expected. It's black and white, it's a disembodied voice from the grave. You ask yourself: who's speaking? What are they asking him about? And that creative ambiguity gets everyone talking about it.
Above all, it reinforces one thing: you can't go back to where you were. Nike and Tiger Woods have understood that the squeaky clean über-athlete is dead and gone. So you have to re-engineer the brand accordingly.
Of course, none of this will matter if he doesn't get his head straight and perform. But this actually takes a bit of the pressure off him on the course.
Make no mistake, Unilever or Coca-Cola wouldn't be doing this. But Nike are a challenging brand. They're at home with risk. They are not the sort of people who run away. I would argue that in an era where traditional advertising – shove a commercial in the middle of the highest-rating show – is failing, this is exactly what you have to do. You can't harness one monolithic audience: you have to rely on conversation. That's what this is going to create.
The writer is a PR specialistReuse content