Nike’s Giant Golden Balls

Nike's Giant Golden BallsThe Nike video featuring Tiger Woods and voiceover of his now-deceased dad, Earl Woods, is nothing short of brilliance.

The commentary, actually part of a 2004 documentary, featured Earl talking about himself as compared to Tila, Tiger’s mom, and their different personality styles. But, in a very surreal way, it was perfectly tailored to the situation that the not-so-young anymore Woods finds himself in today.

Other brands – folks like P&G, Accenture, Gatorade and a host of others, scrambled to quickly rid themselves of Woods lest the tawdriness of his dirty liaisons rub off on them. In spite of all the controversy as the scandal played itself out and evidence of Woods’ harem emerged, Nike adroitly had the cojones to hang tight, in spite of a plethora of advice to do just the opposite. As a result, and not at all uncommon when cooler heads prevail, Nike managed to pull off an oft coveted but not as oft achieved marketing coup.

The spot, released just two days ago, already has almost 2 million hits on YouTube and is the subject of water cooler conversation the world over. Was it in poor taste? Was it disrespectful? Was it attention-getting? Was it over the top? Many think it was all those things and more, and there’s no dearth of commentary on this subject. Here’s a particularly passionate read by Greg Couch of National Fanhouse magazine.

Regardless of your opinion, it was the one thing that matters: attention getting. Hat tip to Nike – you’ve done it again. And, by ignoring the advice of the many naysayers, you’ve positioned NikeGolf at the forefront. What a nice place to be. You see, the essence of this spot isn’t really about Tiger, Earl or even Nike, for that matter. It’s a textbook example of marketing that focuses with laser sharp aim on the right subject, in the right spot, at the precisely right time. In my world – and for the clients who hire me to develop strategy for them, this is a perfect example of a home run.

What do you think?

  • http://ItStartsWith.Us Nate St. Pierre

    Hey Shelly, I said this over at Gini Dietrich's place earlier, but I think it bears repeating here.

    I think this is a brilliantly done ad. It’s clear that it’s not meant to sell anything, but to show Nike’s support of their representative while not condoning his behavior. I don’t know anything at all about Tiger or his dad, but if it’s true that his dad was notoriously like this as well, then I feel the piece loses a bit of credibility. Still, though, as far as what Nike could do in this situation, I think it’s pretty high class. He’s a sports star and a pitch man – he doesn’t have to live a perfect life. Of course it helps, but hey, humans are messy, and we just do the best we can.

    The trouble with trying to hold celebrities up to a higher standard is that they fail. Well, so do a lot of people. If Nike (or whoever) said that they would drop someone because they didn’t live up to an established moral code, they may just have to fire 20% of their staff as well. Of course, probably not as extreme as Tiger’s case, but you get the picture.

    I think this is just about the best they could do in this situation, and I applaud them for it.

  • ShellyKramer

    Good thoughts, Nate. My point was less about the situation in particular and
    more about a savvy marketing tactic illustrated by Nike in even producing
    this particular spot. Great marketing gets people talking – and in this
    case, Nike clearly succeeded. It's like that movie that you see and can't
    quit thinking about and talking about – it has staying power. When you can
    get that kind of effect in a TV spot, in my opinion, you've done a great
    job.

    While I also think that Tiger has created a nasty little mess for both
    himself and his family, I think that we've mostly moved on. And kudos to
    Jesse James for being as much of a cad as Tiger is, since that managed to
    take the heat off Woods :)

    Thanks for the read and, even more, for sharing your thoughts. Always the
    nicest compliment!

  • http://sarahcaron.com Sarah Caron

    It's definitely attention getting and in the world of advertising that is what really matters. I can't tell you how many times I have heard this commercial referenced since it was released (but to be fair, I haven't watched it myself). Regardless, people will remember this … and that will keep the brand and the name in the consciousness of consumers.

  • greeblemonkey

    No clue what Nike was going to do in this situation – but I am not sure bringing up the supposedly philandering dad to support the philandering son was the best idea.

  • http://www.redheadwriting.com The Redhead

    Honestly, I don't hate the commercial. While I have absolutely no respect for Tiger's behavior and the media's lust for exploiting poor judgement calls, kudos to Nike and Tiger. Jesus, when we make bad decisions, what haunts us? Those we love and how those decision impact THEM. If we're human, that is.

    It's difficult to see Tiger as human – he's been built into a superhuman by a brilliant marketing force. Like Phelps before he acted like a young adult and got caught smoking pot. Athletes and celebrities are human and I think oftentimes we don't allow them to BE human. While serial adultery isn't necessarily an acceptable behavior no mater what your social status, it's an err in judgement. To err is human. Tiger's father was a pivotal figure in his life – wouldn't YOU be scared shitless of having to be accountable to someone whom you revere?

    I'm 37 and never have a day in my life where I don't want to make my parents proud. Couple that with the weight of the world on your shoulders and a universal media looking on, hell – my mother might haunt me before she even dies.

    Just sayin'.

  • ShellyKramer

    Agree with you completely, Aimee. But, Nike's at the front and center of the conversation at the moment which, for a brand, is what matters. Thanks for the read, my friend.

  • ShellyKramer

    Exactly. And that, I believe, is their whole point! Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your thoughts – always appreciated!

  • ShellyKramer

    From what I already know about your mother, I'm thinking she already does haunt you! Which is a good thing. I'm pretty sure my kids think about the effects of their behavior vis a vis what I will think when/if I find out about it. And as a parent, I love that.

    I think Tiger is an idiot and just another stupid celebrity who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. At the expense, unfortunately, of his young family. If he were my husband, I'd kick his ass, then I'd kick him to the curb.

    But I do think that Nike has played this hand brilliantly – and when it comes to marketing dollars, those are the kind of results I'd like to see. People. Talking. About. Your. Brand. Love it!!!

    Thanks E for the insights :)

  • ShellyKramer

    From what I already know about your mother, I'm thinking she already does haunt you! Which is a good thing. I'm pretty sure my kids think about the effects of their behavior vis a vis what I will think when/if I find out about it. And as a parent, I love that.

    I think Tiger is an idiot and just another stupid celebrity who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. At the expense, unfortunately, of his young family. If he were my husband, I'd kick his ass, then I'd kick him to the curb.

    But I do think that Nike has played this hand brilliantly – and when it comes to marketing dollars, those are the kind of results I'd like to see. People. Talking. About. Your. Brand. Love it!!!

    Thanks E for the insights :)

  • http://themarketingmark.blogspot.com MarkSherrick

    Total hole in one. Yeah, so we found out that Tiger is kind of a douche, and not as clean cut as he presented himself as…but you know what? We all are. We all have that stuff that we hide, and his came out.

    Nike is all about business, and they know that Tiger makes them a shit ton of money. The commercial is pretty much their way of saying “Go out there and do your thing, Tiger.” On the course, it doesn't matter what he did, he is with very little doubt, the greatest golfer playing the game today.

    Does the commercial really get your attention though? I've watched it several times now since it came out, and the word I use to describe my reaction at this point is “meh.” Maybe because I wasn't that big a fan of his to begin with, maybe because to be honest, I really don't care what he did off the course, but IMHO, the commercial loses whatever shock value it has upon multiple viewings.

    But…the commercial gets people talking…which is after all, the point of the whole thing…so as I stated in my first sentance, total hole in one.

  • http://twitter.com/CherryWoodburn Cherry Woodburn

    You're right again Shelly. I wanted to barf when I saw the ad, more about Tiger's expression than the VO, but it got my attention and I did talk about it with others.

  • ShellyKramer

    I'm not a fan of Tiger's behavior either, Cherry. But I am a fan of good
    advertising. I felt that the whole Tim Tebow Super Bowl business was too
    controversial, but cheating, heck everyone can identify with that, so it
    makes it a more safe subject. I just really thought it was incredibly timely
    of Nike to come up with this concept.

    Thanks for the read, my friend! You're such a gem and I'm honored to know
    ya!

  • ShellyKramer

    You nailed it, Sherrick! On several points, actually.

    He is a douche. And we all are – in some way or another. Or at least those
    of us who are honest enough to admit it.

    Like you, I was over watching the spot after the second time, but it
    absolutely does get your attention from the first moment you see it.

    And boy, oh boy are people ever talking. HOLE! Oh, wait, that was supposed
    to be “Hole in One” (heh heh).

    Thanks Mark – and I promise that as soon as we need a northeast branch,
    you'll be at the top of the list, sweets!!

  • ShellyKramer

    You nailed it, Sherrick! On several points, actually.

    He is a douche. And we all are – in some way or another. Or at least those
    of us who are honest enough to admit it.

    Like you, I was over watching the spot after the second time, but it
    absolutely does get your attention from the first moment you see it.

    And boy, oh boy are people ever talking. HOLE! Oh, wait, that was supposed
    to be “Hole in One” (heh heh).

    Thanks Mark – and I promise that as soon as we need a northeast branch,
    you'll be at the top of the list, sweets!!

  • markwilliamschaefer

    I've really been tossing this one around too. Sure it creates buzz but does it sell athletic shoes?

    I guess I come down on the side of the buzz alone makes this thing work. It was entirely bold and visionary … unlike any ad I can recall seeing, ever.

    In the end I agree with the other commenters that put it in the genius category.

    Thanks for the post, Shelly!

  • http://www.blogomomma.com blogomomma

    As usual my fine feathered friend you hit the nail on the head.

    Much like an ignored and confused starlet – Nike knows one thing and that is how to work the Pap (the marketing paparazzi that is). This ad is all over and everywhere; bad taste and all. Mission accomplished. I won't say props cuz that's like giving Dennis Rodman a vodka on the rocks.

    Many would argue that Tiger fans are the captured market of the me generation (anything goes as long as it's about me). Tiger is the high priest of the me, me and me again; and so they follow. The other set are SO anti Tiger that even if he became a monk they wouldn't buy the holy water. The one thing Tiger (well Earl really, ) knows/ knew well is that a well oiled p/r marketing machine is the alpha AND the omega. Get em talkin' about you, let the sponsor worry about the product. Introduction and visibility and visibility and visibility (is there an echo in here?).

    Whether Tiger rooms with Jesse James or becomes the greeter at Augusta National – I could care less *yawn*. Whether I buy Gatorade, Titleist, Ping or *gulp* Nike it's because of preference, quality , price and performance. It has NOTHING to do with the ding dong they printed on the label.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Caring-Creates-/228986840568 Sally G.

    Hi Shelly. Here's what I love about this ad: it's not really about Tiger at all – it's a positioning statement for Nike, and it speaks to the viewer who is fair, socially responsible, personally accountable and willing to acknowledge that making mistakes and poor choices is natural ~ and useful if used as a learning platform for future excellence.

    So, in this way – it targets athletes, parents, life enthusiasts who struggle with themselves in an effort to get to a better place, human beings who have felt the rush of gratitude for someone's calm and understanding amidst chaos, and anyone who is tired of emotional drama and desires to focus on what matters and move on.

    I love the sense of emotional detachment on what isn't as important, thus reinforcing the message that judgement, defensive posturing, back stories and excuses get in the way … and that we grow and develop from honest self-assessment with a view to learning from poor choices and never repeating them. (They achieve this, for me, in the use of black and white film, Tiger's expressionless face and the disembodied voice of one who is no longer here.)

    And to end it with the simplicity of the Nike logo is powerful. It locked Nike in my mind as a collaborative partner in the striving for personal best with the recognition that you get there with effort. As a mother, a striver for personal growth and development, and an English Major — I feel it's brilliant.

  • ShellyKramer

    I love it when a comment to a blog post is more well written than the
    original post. And, in my opinion Sally, this comment is just that. What an
    insightful piece this is. And it actually spoke to me in the same way.

    Simplicity sells. And a brand that is smart enough to get that is usually
    going to do well. It's been working for Nike for a long time now and this
    spot is no exception – just another example of some smart marketing folks.

    Thanks for the read, Sally. And even more thanks are due for the great
    commentary.

  • ShellyKramer

    You've got it, Lin. Mission accomplished. And, like you, I buy brands whose
    reputation I believe in – it has nothing to do with the stupid celebs they
    may or may not choose to associate themselves with. Unless they associate
    with a celeb that I really hate AND have a bad campaign AND have a bad
    product. Then, they are toast :)

    Thanks for the insightful thoughts – they are, as always, spot-on, my dear!!

  • http://www.reynolds-consulting.com/ margaret reynolds

    Shelly, Brilliant commentary. Trend on. I think your points are well made and your hyperlinks perfect. I particularly enjoyed seeing the spot right there. I have to admit I agree with Greg Couch and I wouldn't have run the spot because in the end what would matter more to me than sales is integrity. But if we choose to set that aside, it is a brilliant attempt at giving people a reason to see past the reality of the situation. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading this very much.

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