With Woods making his return to golf at the Masters earlier today, Nike debuted its new TV ad on ESPN and the Golf Channel. Within one day, the advertisement has earned more than 1.7 million views on the NikeGolf YouTube channel and extensive analysis on several blogs across industries, wide-spread discussion on Twitter and Facebook, as well as conversation in discussion forums. It's even spurred a life of its own as an internet meme overnight with several examples of video spoofs. The original ad features a black and white shot of Woods with a voice-over of his deceased father asking him what he's learned from his mistakes.
There is particular relevance about this ad from a public relations standpoint. It demonstrates a level of transparency between two brands that have remained interlocked throughout a crisis. In a statement, Nike said:
"We support Tiger and his family. As he returns to competitive golf, the ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father."
Rather than pulling out when times got tough, Nike is hanging in there and hasn't shirked from incorporating the personal aspect of Woods' troubles into its communications strategy. It makes brand sense for Nike because without doing so, it would be hard for Woods to be a credible figure for the sale of golf apparel.
The ad also demonstrates consistency. It's coherent strategy for Nike to support an athlete who's been dehumanized in the public eye for his mistakes- after all, that's what happened to them in the 90s after revelations came to light about their negligent labour practices in southeast Asia. Despite that, the company has grown from $6.4 billion in annual revenue in 1996 to $18.6 billion according to its last fiscal year. In time, a similar rebound will likely occur for Woods too. This highlights an important point: that people and organizations are not the sum total of their mistakes. But they do need to be held accountable. This ad does just that and serves to manage the discussion around this very public issue in a proactive way. I think it's a sharp play.
What's your take?