As I previously mentioned, Nike was one of the few sponsors to stick with Tiger Woods through his PR disaster. While Accenture, Gatorade, and AT&T abandoned Woods, Nike and EA Games loyalty remained by Woods’ side.
And on the eve of Tiger Wood’s return to golf, Nike took their loyalty to a whole new level.
The sports apparel company aired a 30-second commercial tonight on ESPN and the Golf Channel. It featured a close-up of Woods, decked in Nike gear, listening to questions from his late father, Earl.
“Tiger, I am more prone to being inquisitive, to promote discussion,” Earl says in the spot. “I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?”
As Dr. Walter Guarino, strategic communication professor at Seton Hall University and president of SGW Advertising Agency, told CNBC’s Darren Rovell, “Nike is really going to bat for Tiger and truly protecting their long time investment in him.”
It’s definitely a risk, but if Woods does well in the Masters tomorrow, this faithfulness will likely translate to huge revenues.
Fans are ready for Woods’ return. According to an ESPN SportsNation poll, 52% of voters hope to see Woods win the Masters. And while ESPN.com visitors do not reflect the entire population, they do reflect Woods’ — and Nike’s — core audience. Fans who appreciate Tiger for his golf skills (and not his celebrity) are the ones buying Tiger’s Nike gear.
While the content of Nike’s new Tiger Woods ad is debatable, the fact that the company once again forcefully aligned itself with Woods was a smart move. Nike has already built an $800 million business on his back, and stuck with him through his transgressions, so they might as well get in on what could be the greatest comeback in sports history.
What did you think of the ad? Watch it here: