Tiger’s conversation

Nike’s new Tiger Woods advertisement came out just in time for the Masters . . . and not without some controversy.

Some are offended. Some shrug and move on, could either take it or leave it. Some are furious.

For example, Fast Company thinks it might be “too early” or that using the voice of a dead man is offensive.

Me? I think it was a good idea – the fact that most of Madison Avenue seems to dislike it solidifies that feeling.

Where it fails: ROI

Long-time readers will surely ask me where the ROI is – as you should. I hear it. “Where’s the call to action? How do I know this ad produces revenue, or at least – the desired action/result?”

Thats where it fails. Those things will largely be unmeasurable in terms we usually talk about.

Where it works: Outing the obvious

It works because it addresses the obvious right up front. It asks the question a lot of people are probably asking about Tiger – maybe even Tiger himself: “What the heck were you thinking?”

They’re going to think it every time they see his face…until they can figure out the answer to that last question (maybe longer).

A certain # of people could care less what Tiger did. This ad is not for them.

A certain # of people despise him, if not hate the ground he walks on – because of what he did.

A certain # of people may never forgive him, maybe because it forces them to relive a dark period of their own lives, even something that still hurts or angers them.

The ad faces up to that and brings up the elephant in the room that no one else wants to discuss.

Not only does the ad out the obvious – it does so in the context of the man’s father. It’s no secret what his dad did for him.  The voice of the one man (other than his father in law, perhaps) that Tiger would least want to disappoint confronts him in the ad.

To be sure, Tiger’s behavior needs to be demonstrably changed for any of this to make a difference. In the meantime, Nike has chosen well when it comes to dealing with it.

I think there’s a reason for that.

Applicability

When advertisers drop you at the first hint of trouble, it’s a clear sign that you aren’t truly an asset. You’re just a face and a name.

If you look at the vendors who dropped Tiger – regardless of reason – Tiger has no real relationship to the product.

Most corporates run and hide from this sort of trouble. AT&T, Accenture and Buick did.

The thing about Nike is that Tiger actually FITS their products. Meanwhile, why should *anyone* listen to Tiger about buying a Buick or phone service? What does Tiger do to make me want to call in a big NYC consulting firm?

Same answer for both questions: Not one thing.

In Nike’s case, the answer is different.

Nike is all about the mental part of sports. That isnt what they manufacture, but it is what their marketing is totally about.

Address it straightforward. Suck it up, be accountable and go do what you do – with no excuses.

In other words…Just do it.

Nike is all about the conversation going on in the athlete’s head.

Accountability

I like the ad, but the main reason for that has nothing to do with Tiger.

I like it because it does what few big corporates have the nerve to do these days: Face a touchy subject head on. Call for accountability, while sticking with the guy who totally, royally screwed up.

Add to that, they’ve taken a risk. The risk that Tiger isn’t going to self-destruct.

4-5 strokes in the Masters is not what I mean.

If Tiger self-destructs repeatedly, punches a cameraman, and otherwise submarines Nike’s investment, it’ll be mental – which is Nike’s game.

Place your bets

If you think it was humbling standing there filming the ad, think how it is now. Seeing that ad in every airport. Every hotel lobby. Every golf club lounge TV. To see every look come his way from a peer, knowing they think this is a chink in his armor. To see every woman look at him annoyed, disgusted or worse.

Successful people manage to containerize stuff that’s troubling them long enough to accomplish a task.

Can Tiger containerize everything that’s going while standing over a putt on #15, knowing that Arnie and Jack and others are watching – along with millions of others – just waiting for him to crack?

Time will tell.

To me, the Nike ad says “He’s our guy. He screwed up really bad. Even his late father would have been ashamed. BUT…he’s still our guy, and we’ll be right there while he works through it.”

Nike showed some backbone, loyalty and accountability in a time when few corporates will.

Now we’ll see if Woods can live up to that.

Other opinions:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36231746/ns/business-sports_biz/

http://www.talentzoo.com/beyond_madison_ave/news.php/Its-Time-to-Tee-Off-on-Tiger-Woods-and-Nike/?articleID=7184

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