“He keeps LOOKING at me . . . like he wants to tell me something . . . or send me an illicit text message about his man parts.”
The above New Nike commercial, which features the voice of Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, who died of a heart attack back in 2006, hit the air waves today, amidst much controversy and generalized hubbub. The release of the commercial directly coincides with the commencement of the Masters Tournament. This prestigious tourney just so happens to be the first one to feature Tiger Woods and his balls (er . . . golfballs), since this past November of 2009. At that time, as I’m sure you are well aware (assuming YOU haven’t been underground for four years), both Tiger and his balls got caught in an entirely different sort of trap than the sandy ones you might find on the putting green.
Tiger grabbing his balls . . .
Tiger thinking with (and subsequently losing) those SAME balls . . .
I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this commercial. On one hand, as a marketing technique, this is is FABULOUS. I haven’t thought or talked about Nike this much since third grade. That was when I first learned that “doing it” was a euphemism for sex. Eight-year old me, therefore, instantly ranked Nike’s slogan right up there with poopy and fart jokes, as the coolest and funniest three words of all time.
In addition to being (pardon the expression) “ballsy,” the Nike commercial is a work of cinematic brilliance. The grainy aged-looking black-and-white film, the somber tone it evokes, the way Tiger stares the camera directly in its face, wistful, yet proud — daring you, the viewer to judge him — all of these things work together to create a package that is evocative and strangely beautiful. In short, this scene wouldn’t look at all out of place in one of those weird artsy French films that you sometimes find on the Independent Film Channel.
But you know what else, makes this commercial remind me of French films? IT’S CREEPY! Earl Woods’ disembodied voice, obviously recorded prior to his death (at least, I hope), is oddly prescient. It feels as though Woods’ authoritarian father is rising from the grave to “ground” him for his wrong doing.
But you know what’s even creepier? When it comes down to it, this 30-second short isn’t really about judgment or redemption at all. Take away all that fancy esoteric packaging, and this video has one purpose, and one purpose only . . . to make YOU buy sneakers!
Celebrities, like Tiger Woods, are paid millions of dollars to star in advertisements like this one. In them, marketers are telling YOU, the viewer, impliedly, that if you shell out the cash to buy these products, you can become LIKE the celebrity featured using them. In Tiger’s case, this gives new meaning to the phrase “Wear Nike and just do it . . .”
Then again, using THAT logic, this is a really ineffective commercial. After all, while watching this, you couldn’t really tell what was going on below Tiger’s waist AT ALL. (“That’s what SHE said!” – har de har har). Tiger very well may have been wearing ADDIDAS, or KEDS or a pizza box, for all we know . . .
Of course, Nike certainly has a right to stand by its celebrity endorser. After all, Tiger Woods is STILL an excellent golfer. No one can contest that. However, was it necessary for the corporation to support him in this way, by exploiting his deceased father, his misdeeds, and, everyone hurt by his actions –most notably, his wife Elin, his two children, and two dogs?
Animals suffer during divorce too, you know!
Is a celebrity entitled to make mistakes, repent for them, and stage a career comeback, after taking some time out to do some serious soul-searching? Absolutely. I’m just not entirely sure that this commercial was the best (or most tasteful) way for Tiger Woods to “just do it” . . .