What's Really Wrong With the Tiger Woods Nike Ad

More

>

This week Nike released a "controversial" new commercial to hype Tiger Woods' return to golf . Watch it only if you want to be depressed. Shot in grainy black-and-white, the entire ad is 33 seconds of Woods gazing mournfully at the camera as the ghostly voice of his late father Earl dishes Ward Cleaver-ish advice on learning from mistakes. The commercial is, at best, creepy. It feels like Nike is exploiting a dead man to gain sympathy for their biggest star. Probably because that's exactly what they're doing.

That doesn't mean the ad isn't effective. Exploitative or not, letting us watch Tiger be scolded by his father, the only person on earth whose opinion ever seemed to matter to him, is a masterful piece of pop psychology.

What's really disturbing about the ad, though, is how normal it seems for a shoe company to make a commercial addressing an athlete's sex life.

Nike, as you may know, sells sporting goods. Ultimately, the company only cares about Tiger to the extent he can help them sell mountains of high-priced golf shoes, clubs, shirts, hats. Theoretically consumers will buy golf gear endorsed by Woods in order to emulate his golf game, not his sex life. That's theory. The reality is that no guy ever buys a cap emblazoned by a TW logo because it protects his head better than any other hat.

Nike had to do something. Making this ad, they acknowledged the obvious truth that Woods' image off the golf course is as important as how he performs on it. More insidiously, though, the company has officially claimed ownership of the scandal—and of Tiger's inevitable "comeback." Woods' personal life has been branded with a Swoosh. His dead father and maritial problems have become just two more ways to sell shoes. Is anybody really all that surprised?

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hampton Stevens is a writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN the Magazine, Playboy, Gawker, Maxim, and many more publications.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

'Cattoo': The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

"Feline art is really popular right now," says a tattoo artist in Brooklyn.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In