The Tiger Woods/Nike Ad: Gross Manipulation with Forethought

The new Nike/Tiger Woods commercial is a compelling piece of art.  Nike’s ad agency created a spot you can’t turn away while eliciting a range of opinions about intent and effectiveness.  It’s brilliant.

Tiger’s “called-out-on-the-carpet” expression touches that part of anyone who has struggled with perpetrating a huge wrong.  It got to me.  I recall a subpar semester at college and dreading my mother’s reaction when she saw my grades.  Instead of yelling, she calmly stated “what you’ll get out of college is what you put into it.”  In those few words I was cut down yet made to never forget.

But in my opinion the ad did nothing to help Woods or Nike.  There is no ethical stance from the subject or the sponsor.  With the help of some very creative people, Nike and Woods worked together to create pure manipulation.

Let’s look at this as a process. People developed the concept, consulted on it and then sold it into Woods.  Then more people researched archived audio; shot the footage; edited it, and aired it.  All planned.  We’ll never know what went on behind the scenes with Nike and Woods on how they arrived at the agreement to maintain their relationship.  Maybe in an attempt to justify behavior, Nike knows that it and Tiger are tightly linked.  Over the years, think of all that video footage of Tiger where the Nike logo is present.

I recall a line from the early 80‘s movie, “The Big Chill”. When Jeff Goldblum’s character, Michael, explains why he squanders his brilliant writing ability by penning stories for People magazine, he says “Don’t knock rationalization. Where would we be without it? I don’t know anyone who’d get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”

I did see a brilliant ad, as well as faux contrition supported by crass commercialism. A pained-looking Tiger reacting to his dad’s words never would have seen the light of day if that conversation actually took place.