I’m in Atlanta now, about 140 miles from Augusta National where Masters is being held this week — which also marks Tiger Woods’ return to golf after a five-month hiatus. Yesterday, Nike released a commercial to that effect which is now shown on the Golf channel (and apparently elsewhere) dozens of times a day. And it has caused quite a stir.
There seems to be lots and lots of people around who are really upset about the redemptive theme, the use of the voice of Tiger’s deceased father, Earl Woods; or the fact that Tiger remains silent (and thus apparently defiant) throughout the ad. Or indeed, by the fact that it is a commercial.
Frankly, I find the spot striking and absolutely brilliant. Of course, it does have a redemptive bent, but that really doesn’t bother me — perhaps because I never thought that Tiger needed to be redeemed for something at the first place. As for it being a commercial — I find it a rare thing that an advertisement can do what this particular one does (and in such an understated way), by managing to break through the way we usually watch, or rather — see, commercials. And one must give credit to Nike for a ballsy move. Instead of running for cover when the scandal broke (as did many other sponsors) Nike stood by him. And now, instead of ducking out and letting Tiger to face his demons and on his own they come out with a message that runs quite against the grain of how most of their clients have traditionally seen (and probably will continue to see) Tiger — as an icon rather as a human being.