Tiger Woods’ first post-scandal tournament appearance is accompanied, naturally, by his first post-scandal Nike ad. Too soon?
To coincide with Tiger Woods’ return to professional golf following, well, you know, Nike is running a TV commercial from Wieden + Kennedy Portland in which he is ‘questioned’ by the voice of his late father, Earl Woods. As Woods stares dolefully into the camera and flash bulbs light up his ‘sad’ face, Woods senior is heard to say “I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and, did you learn anything?”
Nike has wheeled out one of its errant stars for a public apology before, of course. Remember this?
But there are distinct differences between the Woods ad and Cantona’s. Despite initial outrage at Cantona’s ‘Kung-Fu kick’ on a Crystal Palace fan who had been hurling abuse at him, public feeling quickly swung round in the Frenchman’s favour. Hence his brazen non-apology.
Nike was also a very different company then. It was still riding its outsider status, purposefully backing controversial stars and not shying away from what that might entail.
But now Nike is no longer the brash new kid on the block. In Woods it chose not just the best sportsman of his generation but also one of the blandest – or so we thought. Now it has to deal with Bad Boy Woods the serial adulterer – not what it had in mind at all.
You can see the problems NIke and its agency must have wrestled with. Do they do nothing and be accused of abandoning one of their most expensive and prized assets, or do they come out and address the issue head-on?
For me, for Nike to be back running ads with Woods already just feels distasteful and plain wrong. It’s too soon to start wheeling him out again as the corporate shill. Leave him be – he’s got a lot of apologising to do and a commercial is probably not the best place to start doing it.