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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.


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.


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:

Management Small Business Technology Tiger Woods

Denying service to Tiger Woods

Denial of Service (DOS) attacks occur when slimy types hit a web server with thousands (millions, whatever) of requests for access all at the same time.

Their goal is to bring a website down under the unanticipated workload.

A common strategy is to focus these thousands/millions of requests on a website all at once during an important time – like when Tiger misses an eagle putt on 18.

It wasn’t hackers this time. Just a bunch of golf fans trying to watch Tiger and Rocco.

You see, the U.S. Open playoff between Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate was streamed live on the web last Tuesday, as well as followed in Twitter via, and elsewhere.

A network engineer at Arbor Networks, noticed an interesting pattern to the Flash video traffic on the internet during Tiger and Rocco’s playoff round.

The oddest things can make your life interesting in business.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a lot of network engineers were trying to keep the internet’s pipes flowing – and maybe weren’t sure why things were hopping all of a sudden.

Consider this encouragement to think about the events going on around your world, and across the globe.

Something like a missed putt just might impact your business more than you think.

Competition Employees Leadership Management Motivation Personal development Positioning Small Business

Is your business more dangerous when injured?

An injured animal is typically a dangerous thing, especially if it’s a sizable creature.

It’s especially so as they age, as they are wiser and less likely to make a mistake that will cost them dearly.

This is especially so when the animal is Tiger Woods.

All day long, despite an injury, despite little stumbles here and there, Tiger kept getting back up, even as Rocco Mediate came at him again and again in the US Open playoff at Torrey Pines today.

Each time, he fell back to his strength. Each time, that fundamental thing, the thing he has worked so hard on, picked him up and kept him in the game.

For Tiger, you might think it’s his drives.

After all, on these long, tight US Open courses, if you leave the driver at home, you’re in big trouble.

Or perhaps it’s his putting. On the always hard, super slick US Open greens, putt well or you become a spectator faster than you can say “3-putt”.

Or maybe, it’s his ability to get up and down, which in golf lingo means “to scramble out of trouble with a shot that stops close to the hole and then drop a putt to avoid losing a stroke”.

I think it’s something else. Something fundamental to golf and to business.

There’s a reason that martial artists practice the same move tens of thousand of times. The same reason that Tiger, Rocco and others hit hundreds or thousands of drives, or chips, or a specific iron every practice day. Sure, muscle memory is a big part of that, but I’m speaking of a fundamental.

Mental toughness.

The ability to do what you do, at your expected level of performance, no matter what’s going on around you, whether you’re hurt or not.

You might be thinking, yeah, but what about the seagull on the 18th green?

After all that Tiger’s dad did to strengthen him mentally, do you really think that seagull bothered Tiger on the 18th green?

No way. I think he used it to make Mediate think about the situation just a little more. To make him think.

And maybe to take a second look at the putt, just in case:)

What can you, your staff and your business accomplish during the worst of times? The toughest situation? The fundamental core ability?

What do you come back with even after watching your strongest competitor hit a home run? Or make a sale you never thought they could close? Your strength.

91 holes after they started, Tiger came back with the ability to just get par, knowing that if anyone was going to be rattled after a classic day of golf, it wasn’t going to be him.

How about you? What builds that sort of strength in you? In your staff? What do you do that competitors know they can’t beat you at? Do you position your business using that capability?