Analyzing the new Tiger Woods ad for Nike
- April 8, 2010 10:32 AM |
- By Andre Mayer
In case you didn't realize, Tiger Woods is now in full salvation mode. And boy, is it an unseemly display.
Just as the disgraced golfer is about to begin his professional comeback at the Masters in Augusta, Ga. this week, a new Nike ad appears. Over the years, the sports-clothing manufacturer has given us some memorable, sometimes even transcendent ads - but the new Tiger spot is particularly striking. Actually, the word "galling" seems more fitting.
The only visual is Tiger staring sullenly into the camera. The audio track is the late Earl Woods, Tiger's father, pressing his son for a vague explanation. "Tiger, I'm more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was, what your feelings are and, did you learn anything?"
The insinuation is that Earl is holding Tiger to account for his much-publicized philandering. As a concept, a way of addressing Tiger's malfeasance without destroying his career, it's pretty damn shrewd. It's also seriously problematic.
For one thing, Earl died in 2006, long before Tiger's affairs filled the tabloids, so the set-up is disingenuous. I realize that calling an ad "disingenuous" is like calling a bear "furry." The bigger problem is that Earl Woods was a rumoured philanderer himself, so it's not like he can be held up as some beacon of morality. (Perhaps they should have considered hiring James Earl Jones for the voice work. Now there's a man who conveys authority!)
Why does Tiger Woods need a clothing manufacturer to help facilitate his penitence? Well, the answer is simple. This ad is doing double-duty - it's humanizing Tiger, but it's also projecting a message (or two) about Nike. The first message is this: Nike will continue to stick by their man. Second, Tiger's awesome lapse in judgment may help them sell more clothing, provided that it can be couched as a redemptive lesson in how to be a better human being.
If nothing else, Nike's clever gambit will produce thousands of armchair psychologists.
P.O.V.: What do you think of Tiger Woods' new Nike ad?
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