Since Nike released its Tiger Woods’ ad featuring the voice of his deceased father, Earl Woods, a few days ago, there has been no shortage of commentary critiquing it. Whether you like or dislike the ad, whether you think it is absolutely vile or tremendously inspiring, you must admit that as a marketing tool, it was a stroke of absolute genius. Since its release, it has been watched and re-watched and analyzed from every possible angle almost ad infinitum.
Before you read my commentary, please view the following ad if you have not done so already:
Now before I get into this, I want to be undeniably clear about two things:
- I am a shameless Christian woman, and I am now in the practice of referring everything I say and do to scripture. I am woman-enough to admit that I am not the best navigator of my life’s journey…I need guidance. The Bible is the best self-help book ever written.
- As a Christian woman, I in no way condone or endorse infidelity (or any bad behavior, for that matter) on any level. I do however, as a Christian woman, pray for God’s grace and mercy to cover and heal those who commit infidelity and those who are victimized by it. I do judge infidelity – everyone does. But I judge it from the perspective of God’s word: The Bible says that, as His children, we are to confess our sins to each other, to hold each other accountable to all behavior that is in disobedience to how God has instructed us to live and to pray for each others’ healing. (James 5:16). The Word doesn’t say anything about forcing each other to pay public and/or private penance – indefinitely –after God has already forgiven (Psalm 103:12)
The Masters. Golf’s proverbial holy grail of superiority. Masters. Interesting word. As a noun, it has 23 definitions according to dictionary.com. Here’s the 10 I find particularly compelling (and contradicting):
- a person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one's fate.
- an owner of a slave, animal, etc.
- an employer of workers or servants.
- the male head of a household.
- a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science: the great masters of the Impressionist period.
- a victor or conqueror.
- an officer of the court to whom some or all of the issues in a case may be referred for the purpose of taking testimony and making a report to the court.
- a boy or young man (used chiefly as a term of address).
- a device for controlling another device operating in a similar way. Compare slave
- the Master, Jesus Christ.
The reality is, God has already forgiven and forgotten the marital indiscretion of one Eldrick “Tiger” Woods (…and I will remember their sin no more -Jeremiah 31:34). However, the god-of-the-rubber-sole-and-shock-pads – Nike, Inc. -- has forced its former sacred cow to humiliate himself and continue to be convicted in the court of public opinion on a million dollar ad in exchange for keeping his beloved contract. And, as an added bonus to the great swoosh, they pounced on an opportunity to play God (the real One, not the shoe one).
That, friends, is called a Deal with the Devil.
Elin: The Deeper the Excrement, the More Wifey Smells of Roses
Let me just get this point out of the way before I expound on the Nike ad.
Speaking of deals with the devil…
She knew who she was marrying before she married him.
Considering how these scenarios usually exist (and they're all the same) this is not likely the first time he has cheated on her -- it's likely the first time she got fed up with it and made it public knowledge. Listen, I won’t bore you with my resume, but I’ve been in the branding, marketing and PR game for nearly two decades, so let’s just suffice it to say I know of which I speak, shall we? As a PR pro, I know that by the time someone gets busted, they have gotten away with it a million times.
Elin Whatever-Her-Maiden-Name-Is Woods left all-things-Nanny behind and chose to marry one of the wealthiest, most-famous humans on planet Earth. And she chose to marry him when he was in the prime of his career and in the prime of his life. Not unlike the many wives of professional über-athletes, she very likely turned a blind eye to some undesirable behavior (or at least hints of its existence) in exchange for an extremely comfortable life. She ignored stuff. Again, not likely this is the first time he’s been bad. Just the first time we all found out about it.
Everybody has a price. That was very clearly hers.
The devil, in this case, with whom Mrs. Woods struck her deal is not Tiger – it’s the farce that is their covenant of marriage. Now, I realize that, among females, I’m in the minority with this opinion.
That doesn’t make me wrong, though.
In the argument (again, in the court of public opinion) about what is and isn’t satisfactory due-paying, representing this particular case are Tiger Woods, Elin Woods, the Woods children, a few Gloria Allred-represented opportunistic, money-whoring groupies (who are also ‘fans’ – which is short for fanatic, lest we forget…) and, last but certainly not financially least, Tiger’s sponsors.
The lone big-hat brand who “stood by” Tiger is, of course, Nike. As you saw on the recently launched, Masters Tournament-timed ad, Nike (also known as Phil Knight and his coveted ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy) is publicizing its official statement on Woods-gate. Actually, Nike has publicized more of a final judgment than an official statement – they are, after all, allowed to judge given they are the one brand not to flee.
Here’s the thing. Nike conceived this ad to reinvent Tiger Woods. Nike and Wieden + Kennedy – in their infinite marketing wisdom – have taken it upon themselves to re-create, re-brand, re-establish and re-build a broken man. Not a broken brand – a broken man. And again, this is perhaps their not-all-too-obvious way of letting The Tigster know he'd better thank his master (there’s that word again – which definition do you think is applicable?) for his one remaining endorsement contract…and that he's gonna have to crawl for it.
After seeing this ad, it is clearly in the minds of the shoe guru and its relevant partners that they are solely responsible for fixing what is broken, and if they have to dig up the rotting bones and the silenced voice of bad boy’s papa, then that’s exactly what they’ll do. I mean, if anyone can raise the dead, it’s Nike, right?
By the way, I wonder if the name of the marketing exec on this particular campaign is Creepy McCreepington. What delusional egocentric approved this thing? Don’t wanna be around that person when the rapture happens. Sheesh…
If you’re not picking up on my very acerbic sarcasm, hang in there – you’ll catch on by the time the piece is finished.
Part of the great swoosh’s reinvention strategy, by the way, is muzzling and muting Tiger (which is interesting, considering many brands are in desperate search for “articulate” athletes to endorse…but that’s another blog post altogether). Look at the ad. He says nothing. Subliminal messaging is among the most powerful to all the drones watching and waiting to be told what to think. And, in the end, Tiger's real god (Nike, not Buddah) will want to take credit for reinventing – and fixing – the broken man behind the brand.
Playing God. Deal with the Devil. Playing God. Deal with the Devil.
Oh, and if you asked me (which you didn’t, but I’m saying it anyway), Nike’s sanctimonious arrogance is so much worse than all the other brands who dropped him faster than Tiger told Groupie-Whore #1 to erase all those text messages. At least the brands who bailed revealed their sinister judgment overtly.
Oh, and I know that jab at one of Gloria Allred’s clients wasn’t very Christian of me. What can I say? God is no more finished with me than He is with Tiger…
This ad is clearly Nike’s insistence that Tiger continue to atone and, really, beg for the court of public opinion’s forgiveness. But alas, Earl’s son is only required to atone to God, his wife (although she's not blameless) and his children -- not humans. Especially not humans who have nothing to do -- at all -- with his situation. I also don't think there's anything genius about Nike faux-resurrection of a voice from the grave. I have traditionally been a great admirer (notice I didn’t say ‘fan’) of Nike ads - almost all of them are brilliant. But to me, this one is a perfect example of Nike (and its ad agency) believing its own hype and taking its advertising 'genius' over the line into a frighteningly blasphemous area.
When the last chapter of this tale is told, Tiger Woods will have won again, reigned as king of the golf world again and seen redemption in the form of new endorsement deals. He’ll have made more money than he ever dreamed possible, and he’ll sit alongside Marv Albert, Frank Gifford, Bill Clinton and countless other men on the Throne of Professional Resilience.
The real question is, how resilient is his soul?
What’s your opinion?