Why The Nike Tiger Woods Ad Is So Good

Tiger Woods Nike Golf Ad Featuring Earl WoodsThis morning I watched the new spot from Nike that features Tiger Woods, just in time for his return to golf at The Masters. When I first viewed it, the page had already been viewed 600k+ times on YouTube. As of this writing, it’s over 1.1MM; it’s obviously getting a lot of attention. I’ve been thinking about this video all day, going back and forth about how I feel about it.  The video is embedded below, and it’s worth watching.  Let me summarize what you see:

It’s a :30 spot in black and white, with Tiger Woods standing still.  He says nothing.  He blinks.  The voice over is of his father, Earl Woods, who passed away in 2006. He is talking to his son, and says, “Tiger…I am more prone to be inquisitive; to promote discussion.  I want to find out what your thinking was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and…did you learn anything?” It flashes to a black background and the simple, iconic Nike swoosh.

That’s it. The whole ad.

As I’ve considered this spot, I’ve heard and read many other opinions. Donny Deutsch went on the Today Show to discuss it.  The full video is here, but the bottom line is that he likes it. Although I didn’t watch The View this morning (nor will I ever, unless threatened with serious physical harm), I did (unfortunately) watch their opinion of the spot online.  You can see it here. Barbara Walters asks, “will this make you buy Nike?”  With no real response, she asks it again.  Although Ms. Walters is great at many things, I think it’s clear she has never done any substantial brand marketing.  TV commercials are not a call to action to go out and buy, that’s what coupons are for.  How many TV commercials or online videos have you seen that have incited you to purchase something? It’s possible, but it isn’t likely.

This spot is about building brand power, and I think Nike has a home run with this spot. No, the video itself will not make a person turn off the computer (or the TV), drive to the store and buy something from Nike.  But what it will do in many people is stir an emotion.  Not the same emotion, it will be different in each person, but when you are standing at your local sporting goods store with black Adidas shorts to your left and black Nike shorts to your right, you will likely be driven to purchase either by subconsciously weighing price value or emotion.  You may not associate this spot with your Nike purchase decision (good brand building isn’t tied back to any one event) but chances are, you’ll go with the Nike shorts because they stir some sort of visceral reaction within you, even if it’s not entirely positive.

I could speculate about why Nike went this direction, or why Tiger approved it.  I have heard the very angry admonish this spot, and the very forgiving say that it is the perfect mood for his return to sports.  I could speculate that Nike has put themselves in a fatherly position by pushing creative of this nature, but I don’t know that for sure.

What I do know is this: I’ve been thinking about the Tiger Woods Nike video all day. And that, my friends, is effective advertising.

(video embedded above, go to original article if you can’t see it)


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About the Author

Matt Singley CEO of @singleymackie. Social Media strategy & execution for Microsoft, AT&T, Hasbro & others. Father of 4. Triathlete. Afraid of spontaneous human combustion.

Comments (12)

  1. I don’t get it.

    My husband says Nike is brilliant. The person who came up with this is absolutely brilliant. He says it’s raw and honest, and shaming. And it’s what everyone is thinking.

    Oh well… I still don’t get it.

  2. Thanks for sharing your opinion Matt but I respectfully disagree. The spot adds further tarnish to my view of both the Woods and Nike brands, just when I was willing to refocus on his golf game and forget about the stuff that has been going on with his reputation. The deceased father factor and disingenuous nature of the spot outweighs the fact that it’s caused a reaction in me. The reaction is purely negative. I also think that it’s selfish timing with the Masters going on. Ah well, thanks again for the post.

  3. Agreed. Thanks for the analysis.

    Certainly, no one will close this or turn it off.

    What I do wonder is, is this a rebranding of the Tiger Brand?

  4. Alyssa

    Agree 100%! I was out with some friends last night and that commercial became the focus of our conversation at one point. People bashed it, people liked it, but either way they were talking about it.

  5. Elizabeth

    Please, please, please proof what you post before you post it. Your vs. you’re.
    Your grammar is indicative of your ability to communicate and right now, you’re not doing well.

  6. OK I guess it *is* brand building if you’re going the creepy angle. The Parodies being made are far more authentic and “real”. http://www.popeater.com/2010/04/08/tiger-woods-nike-commercial-parodies
    Autheticity used to carry a certain cache because it implied a vision (utopian albeit) of elightened thought and action which carried burdens as well as benefits. But the reality of authenticity in practice is more towards: I do what I want, and now how can I turn that to my benefit. I have no moral screed for woods or nike. They do what they feel they need to do. But I tend to lean away from the brand building / “emotion stirring” at any cost.

  7. You can post a video on YouTube of a car wreck where someone gets their head sheared off, and it will get millions of views and be talked about. That doesn’t make it effective. Nike successfully dodged association with Tiger Woods’ scandal, until now. By creating something that is so directly tied to his personal troubles, they, and Tiger have turned the discussion from something that may not be anyone’s business, to something that definitely is. And that is to the detriment of both the Tiger brand and the Nike brand. So, the commercial is a #FAIL

  8. Elizabeth, I cannot find the “your” vs. “you’re” issue you are talking about. I put it up on Twitter, nobody there found it either. I’m all for proofreading and make plenty of mistakes, but I don’t think I did this time.

  9. Chris


    as I was reading the first sentence of your post, I decided to watch the ad first and then come back and read your thoughts on it.

    Immediately after having watched the ad the first and only thought that entered my mind quite clearly and loud was:


  10. Hi Matt, I saw your blog while writing my own on Tiger this week, and even though I disagree with you, I think your best point is this–that we’re all talking about it. I’m sure Nike has been talked about more than any other sportswear company these past two weeks. And that is often the goal of advertising.

    I’d be interested to see if there’s a marked difference in reactions between men and women. And, my guess is I would buy the Adidas because the emotion I was left with for Nike was negative. I understand why they tried this approach–and the words are perfect. But the fact that Tiger’s father was unfaithful and the fact that Tiger is seen as quite arrogant should have made Nike choose a different direction.

    Oh yeah, I agreed with you about The View too!

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