Earl and Tiger Nike TV Ad Connects with Fathers' Sensibilities

Carlos G Giron@@carlosgironnycContributor IIIApril 8, 2010

NEW YORK - APRIL 08:  Sports fans watch the controversial new Tiger Woods Nike advertisement featuring the voice of his late father Earl during Masters coverage televised at ESPN Zone April 8, 2010 in New York City. Woods is playing in the Masters for his first tournament in twenty weeks since a sex scandal brought a halt to his career.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The new Nike television ad featuring Tiger Woods is nothing short of an ace (a hole-in-one for those unfamiliar with golf lingo)!

Nike continues to push the envelope, creating ads that break new ground, inspiring us to move forward and “Just Do It.” From the Brazilian national team ad featuring star players happily kicking the ball around at an airport, to elite athletes like Dwyane Wade and Manny Pacquiao training and playing as if their lives depended on it, Nike TV ads seldom fail to elicit a visceral reaction.

The new “Earl and Tiger” ad continues this brilliant streak of deeply emotional Nike TV ads, breaking away from the clutter and commanding a strong reaction.

The ad features the voice of Tiger Woods’ father, Earl Woods, talking to a somber Tiger stoically staring into the camera as if looking at his father and respectfully accepting his reprimand.

Earl Woods’voice says the following words: "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?"

To many of us who are fathers of sons, the words sound entirely heartfelt, thoughtful and loving. Words that any loving father would want to say to his son if he was doing something wrong, something destructive.

Most people think that Tiger had a great father (not perfect, of course. Who does?). But everyone knows that Earl loved Tiger dearly.

That is the core reason this ad works. It is a story of a son making a big mistake and getting back on track inspired in part by the love of his father.

There is no doubt in my mind that Earl, who passed away in 2006, would have wanted to be part of his son's rehabilitation in any way he could. As such, using his voice as part of the campaign is entirely appropriate and ethical.

Having said that, there are probably better ways to help to clean Tiger’s image. Maybe get Tiger to support a respected nonprofit organization helping children with disabilities, poor families, or inner-city children who want to excel at golf, a cause he can sincerely identify with.

But this Nike effort is solid. The ad is getting terrific media coverage, word of mouth, Internet visibility and buzz and is getting people engaged, talking, debating, agreeing and disagreeing.

The ad connected specially with fathers with sons. Earl’s voice is just so stunningly sincere, all so real and heartfelt. Fathers of sons can particularly understand this.

Kudos to Nike for being unafraid to test the edges of sports marketing, and for allowing themselves to think way outside the box!

This Nike marketing effort certainly helps Tiger's image. It humanizes him and reminds people of the great father he had. Brilliant marketing with a terrific human touch.        

Finally, as I write this, I find myself intently watching The Masters on ESPN. I must admit that I would not be watching this at all if Tiger was not there competing and seeking to return to his unparallelled form.

My heart and those of many others are surely with Tiger, a great champion, a great athlete and a son of a loving and dedicated father.



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