When marketing is less about truth and more about endorsing one view of reality, Nike often comes out the winner.
The company’s latest ad pushes the preferred narrative once again, no matter how wrong or how rankling it is.
Nike capitalized this week on Tiger Woods‘ latest run, which includes two PGA Tour victories and regaining the world No. 1 ranking heading into the Master’s. While many sports fans won’t forget Woods’ scandal and the fallout of the past few years, Nike is betting that more are interested in something else — getting back to the time when Woods dominated and was great to watch.
In Nike’s newest ad, Woods sizes up a putt, with the ad’s text saying, “Winning takes care of everything.” While people have quickly pounded Nike on Twitter, Facebook and comments sections everywhere, pointing out that Woods’ transgressions and the consequences remain, Nike does have a point. For many fans, the revelation of Woods’ infidelity and the shock of his image being shredded is a memory for the past. The sight of him taking over the golf world once again, however, is a welcome development.
Woods, of all people, knows the power of changing the narrative. He built his career not only on otherworldly golf but also on the person he presented himself as, painting himself as a decent and likable guy who fans would have no reason not to fully support on his marches to dominance.
Nike is only trying to do what Woods has done so many times before — move the spotlight to what people care about the most, knowing they will come back for it. Nike did it with an ad that confronted Woods’ problems head-on a few years ago (Earl Woods, anyone?), and now it’s doing it by simply saying what everyone is thinking: Why can’t winning change everything, now that everyone has accepted that this man is loved for his wins — the one thing he has always been able to do — despite the rest of his life being less than what he said?
Deep down, no one wants to believe that Woods’ past is acceptable now that he’s more successful at his sport, or that his getting his game back on the course has helped him also get his game back elsewhere (family life, endorsement deals, Lindsey Vonn). But the world of sports, and the marketing that drives it, has long said that that’s exactly how it works, no matter the moral answer.
Nike was just brash enough to say it out loud.
Check out the controversial ad in the photo below.
They’re always thankful when the Patriots keep them.
Thank you to the Kraft family, Coach Belichick and the entire Patriots organization. I'm truly blessed. Thanks for all the kind words.—
Sebastian Vollmer (@SebVollmer) March 26, 2013
Manny being Manny!