Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nike Resurrects Tiger Woods' Dead Father for New Ad

You know what they say: Father knows best. Even if daddy has been dead since 2006.

Yesterday Nike “leaked” their new Tiger Woods commercial, aka: “spread like wildfire” ensuring they would get plenty of coverage leading up to the commercial’s official premiere during Woods’ return to the Masters today at 1:42 EST, and it set off a maelstrom of debate.

The 30-second spot features a cinematic black and white medium shot of a contrite Tiger, blinking like a puppy dog who’s been smacked one too many times with a newspaper, as he stares into the camera which slowly creeps towards him. Unremarkable at first, but what’s got everyone talking is the voiceover that accompanies the footage. It’s a recording of Tiger’s father, Earl, who passed away in 2006, saying, “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?” before the screen flickers to black.

Remember when Natalie Cole sang a duet of “Unforgettable” with her long deceased father, Nat King Cole, and a million father-daughter wedding dances were launched? This has the same feeling. But invoking a dead parent as a way to build support and foster good will can easily be seen as dirty pool, especially when it’s being used for an advertisement. Jimmy Kimmel played the commercial on his show last night, prompting stunned silence from his audience until he quipped, “Well, that’ll make you want to buy shoes, won’t it?” and everyone erupted in hoots and applause. But whether it’s beautiful art or great commerce, the ad is basically a public spanking by a dictatorial father, and there’s nothing America loves more than that.

Interestingly, one major Nike component is missing from the ad; their tag line. It would seem the words “Just Do It” in a Tiger Woods ad don’t have the right connotation anymore and they are noticeably absent, as is one major fact in all the ongoing debate. What people seem to be glazing over is that Earl Woods was also a notorious philanderer. Hellooo! Like father like son. If Nike were really smart, they would have ended their commercial with Tiger hollering, “I learned it by watching you, Dad!”


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