Nike urges viewers to forgive and forget

By Megan Kutulis
April 12, 2010

This week, Nike debuted its new commercial featuring Tiger Woods. Never thought you’d hear his name in the advertising world again, did ya? The ad has certainly gotten a lot of buzz, appearing as “breaking news” on both CNN and The Insider, which is kind of a sad indication as to where our world is headed, but whatever. I know I might get a lot of heat for this, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that was the smartest move Nike and Tiger could have made.

If you haven’t seen the ad yet, here’s the rundown. The whole commercial is a black-and-white still image of Tiger, staring into the camera, clearly after being coached on how to perfect the feel-bad-for-me face. The audio on the commercial is a recording of his late father, who asks questions like “What did you learn?” and “How did you fix it?” The audio was taken from a video series on Tiger’s life that was produced a few years ago. Nike was able to retrieve the audio from one of his father’s interviews, and it’s almost eerie how applicable it is to his current, um, situation.

It’s not a secret to anyone that Tiger royally screwed up, and that his wife pretty much has the whole you-owe-me thing going for her for the rest of her life. I definitely didn’t see Tiger coming back anytime soon, and I definitely didn’t see anyone wanting him promoting their brand, especially after the slew of companies that dropped him within seconds of hearing of his excessive infidelity.

I think Nike might have been the only of Tiger’s endorsements that could get away with producing a commercial like that.  It’s a company that has established itself as the premiere sporting goods company, and there’s no way that Tag Haeur or Gatorade could have made that commercial in the same light. I think it had to be Nike that made it, because it’s a brand that Americans have come to trust, and if there’s one thing Tiger needs right now, it is definitely trust.

I realize a lot of people are going to say that Tiger doesn’t deserve to have this Nike endorsement, and that this commercial isn’t going to make them think any better of him. And you’re right, you’re totally right. I think Tiger wants to get back into the spotlight, I think he needs a lot longer to totally reflect on what he did wrong, and I don’t think he deserves to get off that easily.

What makes this commercial so unique and likable for me, is that, first of all, Nike didn’t try and ignore everything that has happened over the past six months. The company could have easily created an ad where Tiger’s golfing, happy as a clam, with his Nike apparel on, but instead, they acknowledged the fact that Tiger did something wrong, that he made a mistake and that this was his way of apologizing to his endorsers and to the public.

The second thing that I liked about this commercial was that it was so raw. The camera was just focused on Tiger, and I know no matter how bad what he did was or how much he deserved it, that had to have been incredibly hard on him. There’s something refreshing about the fact that he seemed to accept that guilt more in this commercial than he did at his press conference.

Overall, I think Nike’s marketing strategy was fantastic when they created this commercial. I think that if more celebrities were to own up to their mistakes like that and come back in such a unique way, it would be a lot easier to forgive the cheaters, liars and fame-hungry people that end up in our tabloids. Props to Nike, who didn’t worry about what the critics would say. They, you know, just did it.

Megan Kutulis

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