Your Take: Tiger Woods’ latest Nike ad

Whether you’re a golf fan or just a casual observer of news headlines, chances are you’ve heard all about the latest concerning Tiger Woods. No, I don’t mean the news that he’s dating Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn. There’s a new ad celebrating his return to the world’s number one golfer status that’s ruffling some feathers.
After a rocky return to golf after his high-profile personal issues, Woods returned to the number one spot as the world’s top golfer last weekend. Nike saluted the golfer with an advertisement disseminated through Facebook and Twitter that featured a quote from Woods, “Winning takes care of everything.”

Tiger Woods Ad
Since the advertisement was released, there has been a firestorm of criticism leveled at Nike. Many believe that the ad harkens back to Woods’ personal struggles, implying that his winning negates his controversial personal issues. The number of comments on the post currently stands at 471 and runs the gamut of responses. One user remarked, “I like this ad, good for you Tiger and for you Nike. Tiger is a golfer, not a saint or the head of a church. His personal life is just that, PERSONAL and people should stay out of it.” Another user stated, “Completely asinine marketing move – I imagine some people are going to lose their jobs over this, hopefully.”

Nike Screenshot

Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast has come out in defense of the ad, explaining that the quote is something Woods has always stated even prior to his personal issues. “The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance,” Gast told the New York Daily News (Boren, 2013). Meanwhile, the debate about the meaning of the ad is continuing on morning news shows, in the advertising world and around water coolers everywhere.
One thing is certain. Nike, regardless of the intent or subtext of the ad, has achieved what it wanted to do and then some. Woods amazing feat has been acknowledged by millions. Beyond that, Nike has stirred up a debate that keeps it on the conscious of people everywhere. Whether people see the ad as a simple acknowledgement or a case of mocking past wrong-doings, on thing is evident. People are talking about it and keeping the Nike name on lips everywhere. But is this notoriety coming at a price? Woods has weathered a firestorm that consumed his life at the expense of his personal career. Lost endorsements, public judgment and irreparable damage to his brand marked a time where the world saw Woods at his worst. As time passed, the damage leveled off and Woods became known again for his golf prowess rather his personal failings. For better or worse, Nike’s ad is causing the world to rehash what Woods has worked hard to get passed. Time will prove if the ad’s notoriety is worth it.

Reference

Boren, C. (2013, March 27). Tiger Woods Nike ad causes a stir with “winning takes care of everything” message. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 29, 2013 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2013/03/27/tiger-woods-nike-ad-causes-a-stir-with-winning-takes-care-of-everything-message/

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17 Responses to Your Take: Tiger Woods’ latest Nike ad

  1. Nikolos Gurney says:

    I had not seen this ad and I think…it is awesome. Even if it did reference his personal life I still think the ad captures a good bit of Americana that even though it may not be pretty, it is true: for the last 200+ years we have cared about one thing, winning. It sounds like some people are coping with this reality all that well though. It is definitely a bold move on Nike’s behalf. I would suspect that this was brought up internally and the ramifications of running the ad were addressed. The entire personal life bit seems pretty obvious, and as a loud, somewhat obvious undertone it appears to have been accepted by the powers that be at Nike.

    • calandry says:

      Great insight, Nikolos. I’m willing to bet the farm that the marketing team at Nike knew full well that the ad would illicit ill feelings and conjure up the ugly personal situation Tiger went through. But I’m sure that’s what they were looking for. Whether you’re complaining about the ad or defending it, you’re talking about it. That keeps the company relevant and on the lips of consumers everywhere.

  2. Justin McAneny says:

    I saw this ad and immediately liked it. We proclaim ourselves as a culture of winners and this just comes out and says it. It’s honesty is refreshing. How often does winning fix misgivings? Lots, from in high school to at the office. And it probably did just what Nike wanted, people are talking about Woods and the brand.

    • calandry says:

      I actually liked it too, Justin. I didn’t relate the ad to Woods’ personal life. I equated it to winning eliminating the challenges of not being number one. When you look at it like that, it perfectly relates to our culture of winning.

  3. Allison Cordova says:

    Sorry to break the ‘i like this ad’ party! lol I did not care for this ad at all. Woods is an outstanding golfer, no one can take that away from him. But skill should not let athletes get away with behavior that is morally not okay, i.e. cheating on your wife with several women. Woods is a public figure …the cat is out of the bag ..the world already knows what he did. Nike is just adding more fuel to the fire ..and getting away with it. I imagine Nike can fall back and say ..well, we didn’t say it, Tiger said it! ..Even if he had been saying this phrase for years, using it NOW ..after all the controversy surrounding Woods’ actions is unethical, in my opinion. Then again ..ethics is probably Nike’s last concern.

    • calandry says:

      Thanks for your insight, Allison. I appreciate your point of view. I have to say, I am actually okay with the ad. I will agree with you that it calls to mind his MANY indiscretions. But in the end, the connection for me was stronger in terms of his returning to number one rather than his personal issues. The thing is no matter what advertising Woods is a part of, it will always be related to his personal life. And you’re right, I’m sure Nike doesn’t care. After all, they didn’t release him as a spokesman at the height of his scandal.

  4. jhuck says:

    Excellent post and I imagine you’re going to get a lot of comments on it.
    Redemption is a powerful narrative in our culture and I think this ad sort of touches on it. Tiger Woods made some serious mistakes, and he has paid dearly for them by losing his family, endorsements, and assets (in the divorce settlement). At what point do we say someone has given their pound of flesh.. let them move on and do what they do.
    I don’t condone cheating but the fact is Woods did not break any laws so how why should we deprive him of an ability to make money?
    As for the Nike Ad.. I think it achieved what it wanted to by taking a position “winning takes care of everything”, knowing that it would create the kind of controversy it has. People are talking about it, it’s sticky! I seriously doubt even the haters are going to stop buying Nike products because of it. One final point.. Nike’s “winning takes care of everything” is a reflection on our cultural values. We reward winning and winners and most of the time look the other way on the messy personal life details.

    • calandry says:

      Great point, John! Our cultural values do hold winning and winners in high esteem. How many professional athletes are praised for their athletic prowess at the same time their personal lives are in shambles? I think ads like this court controversy and ultimately, it keeps Nike in the mix and causes it to stand out.

  5. lweekley says:

    This is interesting! I wonder if our sentiments about this ad will be split down gender lines. I did not care for the ad, although I don’t have strong feelings about Tiger’s infidelity. I think the reason it doesn’t work for me is that the “winning equals redemption” equation just does not computer for me.

    • lweekley says:

      *compute

    • calandry says:

      I think I’m going to buck the gender trend. I don’t see a problem with the ad. I do agree though with your sentiment that the “winning equals redemption” attitude is less than desirable.

  6. Sarah Harris says:

    I personally didn’t like the ad because while what went down with Tiger was personal (although played out in a very public way), I feel that his personA was classier than this. Sure he was/is an amazing golfer, and he showed that he’s human and got derailed briefly with his personal stuff going on but his skill brought him back. He probably does even have a huge right to brag to a certain extent, but the Tiger that I knew isn’t yelling “In your face!” like that! I’m not a golfing fan overall, but I just don’t feel like this ad sits well.

    To put my perspective in a clearer light, the following mock Nike Ads when applied to some other famous (infamous?!) athletes? Winning can’t “take care” of everything.
    http://www.adrants.com/2013/03/nike-winning-ad-spoofed-with-lance.php

    Sarah

    • calandry says:

      Wow, I gotta admit that seeing those mock ads made your point hit home. To see figures like O.J. Simpson and Oscar Pistorius completely changed the dynamic.

      While you are right about the “old” Tiger not being so arrogant, you have to keep mind that Nike produced the ad, not him. It is his quote, but in the proper context, he’s talking about how winning makes the hard work and dedication worth it. Trust me, I will be the first to agree that Tiger is no angel. I’ll never see him the same again and if I passed him on the street, he’d get a serious eye roll (lol). But, I don’t think this ad is a terrible thing.

  7. aflores says:

    It was interesting to discuss the ad with someone from Latin America – they laughed when I told them about the controversy. I don’t care much for the ad, but I think the message can be interpreted in many ways by stakeholders. For instance, which one of the following would you choose in interpreting the meaning:
    1. Winning makes things right
    2. Winning is all you need for people to forget about your past personal mistakes
    3. Winning keeps one secure and in a position of power
    4. Winning equals to taking care of business

    The different interpretations make this a powerful marketing campaign.

    Adriana

    • calandry says:

      The conversation must have been fascinating, Adriana. I’m sure our cultural values and social mores do weight heavily on how we interpret this ad. So it would be cool to see how someone of another cultural background views it. I also agree that depending on who you are and how you’re categorized as a stakeholder likely does influence the way you see the ad. Great point!

  8. capeyton says:

    I love it. At a former athlete, and a consumer of massive amounts of sports and sports news, I feel like this accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Even with a slump on the golf course, naysayers still cited his personal faults as the reason for his demise. I feel like this ad silences the haters (and creates some new ones). The fact is, if you were already turned off to Tiger, this ad wasn’t for you. It resonated with those who were invested in his redemption story and hit home the second redemption was realized.

    No one really faulted Michael Jordan for his bravado on or off the court (despite similar infidelity issues and very public gambling issues). I think a lot of why Tiger catches flack is because golf is perceived to be such a conservative sport.

    As for whether or not his return to the #1 spot justifies his past personal mistakes, I don’t think that was the primary intent. If you watch golf, you’ll know that Tiger also caught a great deal of public doubt about his ability to still compete at the highest levels IN HIS SPORT, not his personal life. I viewed this ad as a “ha! I told you I’d be back…” more than any big reference to his personal life. I viewed the personal think as more of a double entendre that ended up being a by product.

    Great conversation starter, Christi!

  9. calandry says:

    Thanks Cydney! We’re right on point when it comes to interpreting this ad. When I read it, I immediately associated it with Woods’ struggles to regain his former playing glory when he returned to the game. It was an uphill battle and for a while, most people wrote him off. Now look where he is. I took this as saying, “When you’re on the bottom, winning gets you back on top.” It’s as simple as that. I think making the jump to assuming it was about his personal life is a bit unfair. But one thing is for sure. Nike wanted to get people talking and that’s exactly what they’re doing.