FanDuel - WFBC

June 14, 2006

Marketing the Grief [flash]: . Tiger Woods returns tomorrow to play in the US Open at Winged Foot. It will be his first tournament start since the death of his father, Earl Woods, and the final round will be played on Father's Day. Nike have produced an advert.

posted by JJ to golf at 04:27 AM - 57 comments

This will be Winged Foot's sixth hosting of a major championship (four US Opens and one USPGA). Previous US Opens were in 1984, 1974, 1959 and 1929. For those who fancy a punt, the odds look like this. My tip? Don't bet on golf. My other tip? Fat Phil, with David Howell (a man who shaves with a Cleveland 5-iron it would seem) as my "decent, outside, each way bet."

posted by JJ at 05:39 AM on June 14

Nike advertising hits me. I'm a jaded, cynical person. I'm not one to fall for ads, and i don't much care for Nike products. But Nike ads get me. Including this one. Or especially this one. My dad died when i was in my early teens, right around the time he started teaching me how to golf. I actually got a little teary watching this. Those Nike folk are good at what they do. I'll be pulling for Tiger as he gets back into it.

posted by SummersEve at 07:36 AM on June 14

"Marketing the Grief" seems a tad strong to me. The clip doesn't come across to me to be sentimental to the point of maudlin, nor does it overtly have that "our short time on this blue orb" message of which I was fearful when I clicked. Yeah, it's a little "You're My Best Friend" by Queen, but at least it's not "Wind Beneath My Wings." If I were Tiger, I would think it was pretty cool. And unless Nike got possession of anything and everything documenting Tiger's life to date when they signed him (which I suppose is possible) I would guess that Tiger not only endorsed the clip, but assisted. I was more offended by that picture of Phil. Once I stopped laughing, that is. Oh, and I'm taking Chris DiMarco to win. He's overdue.

posted by BullpenPro at 07:44 AM on June 14

Nike's sales pitch may be a bit sugary for British tastes but the company was unrepentant, pointing out that the ad was compiled with the cooperation of Woods. "We would never have released this without the full blessing and support of Tiger and his family," a spokesman said. "We look for chances to give our athletes a way to make statement about themselves and now was an appropriate time for Tiger to make a statement. This is a message from Tiger and Nike to fathers everywhere." I guess that sort of sums up what I'd say to both of you. While I don't agree with the stiff-upper-lip approach that is employed by most in Britain to deal with emotional issues in general, I think grief is something that should be private. Or maybe I'm just a hardened old cynic who doesn't get it. Also, my own father, who put a pen in my hands the day I was born to see how my grip was shaping up, is still alive (despite having a heart attack shortly after sitting in the Millenium Stadium watching this), so, despite a brief glimpse of what life would be like without him, I have no real clue how it must feel. I'll be pulling for Tiger too, but only because I like him, not because his father died and certainly not because of Nike's advert.

posted by JJ at 08:00 AM on June 14

The last Open held at Winged Foot was the first in a long line of tough losses for Greg Norman in major championships, but his (estimated) 75 foot par putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Fuzzy Zoeller was truly stupendous. (I can still see Fuzzy standing in the middle of the fairway on 18 waving a towel in mock surrender with a smile on his face, he thought the putt was for birdie and the win.) I think we all know of Tiger's bond with his father, and I didn't find the ad distasteful at all. My dark horse pick: Jim Furyk, and my sentimental pick:Davis Love III, returning to the site of his only major win. My realistic pick: That little boy in the ad who so obviously loves the game, and his father.

posted by mjkredliner at 08:02 AM on June 14

Excellent post jj. I particularly enjoyed the Earl Woods, Sr. interview. Love them or hate them, they had a special relationship, and we should all be so lucky.

posted by bobrolloff at 08:41 AM on June 14

It was good that one, wasn't it? A bit old perhaps (2002), but interesting all the same.

posted by JJ at 08:48 AM on June 14

Nice post. Enough said.

posted by panteeze at 09:25 AM on June 14

Come on JJ, we pretty much gave up on the stiff upper lip thing when every man and his dog were blubbing and throwing flowers at Di's hearse. Nowadays it's all scousers laying wreaths for dead chickens and the like.

posted by squealy at 12:26 PM on June 14

Is there really a tasteful way to exploit a celebrity's grief to sell shoes made by 13 year old girls in Sri-Lanka? I don't mean to come off as holier than thou about this, but I just expected a few more responses towards the "tacky" side. Isn't there some part of Tiger's life that isn't a part of the Nike marketing machine? I would be fine with CBS sports running the usual "tribute to Tiger's dad" reels, but I think it's shameless of Nike to use a personal tragedy of Tiger's to try and increase their TOMA. (As an aside, don't you already think CBS will run enough of these "Tiger's dad was great" pieces anyway?) I'm sorry, but I think this is reprehensable and disgusting. It's like handing out coupons at a funeral. "This casket sponsored by..." Abominable. Nike should be ashamed that they even see a "marketing opportunity" in this, much less to actually capitalize on it with a Necro-mercial.... I actually purchased some Nike products this weekend... Last time that'll happen.

posted by LostInDaJungle at 01:07 PM on June 14

I don't think we'll ever know whether Tiger's Dad was great. But I'm sure, to Tiger, he was. And that's all that matters.

posted by drtherc at 01:23 PM on June 14

Is there really a tasteful way to exploit a celebrity's grief to sell shoes made by 13 year old girls in Sri-Lanka? Total number of Nike products - 0 Total pieces of Nike marketing - 1 (Their logo at the end) I think you're way off base in claiming it's only intension is to sell shoes. I've been in plenty of offices where employers try to create some kind of gesture to honor employees in their time of need, flowers, cards, donations. The fact that Nike has the ability to create a television advertisement to honor Tiger and his Dad on Father's Day doesn't make them as evil as you'd like to portray them. Plus, that ad could have easily have run if Earl Woods were still battling. Their relationship is part of what helped Tiger grow into the man he is and what makes most fathers and sons (especially those who golf) enjoy their time to golf. The only messaging in the ad? To Dad and Father's everywhere. Seems appropriate for Father's Day.

posted by YukonGold at 01:26 PM on June 14

I think it is just a nice tribute, not just to Earl, but to fathers everywhere. Other than the "swoosh" logo at the end, (and lets face it, I have seen people with it TATOOED on themself, that damn thing is everywhere), there is never a mention of any of their products. I have never purchased a Nike product, and it's not because I think they exploit child labor, it is because 1. I have no real need for expensive running shoes, and 2. I have played Titleist golf equipment my entire golfing existence and have always preferred theirs to Nike's, and, 3. The swoosh logo reminds me of the check mark my grade school teacher used to mark my mistakes. If Tiger has no problem with it, why should I? (you beat me to it YukonGold)

posted by mjkredliner at 01:31 PM on June 14

I'm pulling for Woods this weekend. I hope it comes to the last hole and he punches in a birdie, pumps his fist, then drops to one knee and looks at the sky in rememberance of his father. I'm pullin for you Tiger.

posted by chemwizBsquared at 01:57 PM on June 14

I'm pulling for Woods this weekend. I hope it comes to the last hole and he punches in a birdie, pumps his fist, then drops to one knee and looks at the sky in rememberance of his father. Sorry - I just threw up in my mouth a little. I was undecided, but leaning towards finding the ad distasteful - now I think I've worked out what it is about it I don't like. It's the swoosh. That's all. It's fine right up until the swoosh. I take your point, Yukon, that they aren't marketing any particular product, but the swoosh is a message in itself - that's what logos are for - and I'm going to stick by the way I phrased it in the FPP. I think they (Nike and Tiger) are marketing the grief. I agree with LostInDaJungle - the place for such a montage is on a telecast, not an advertisment (which is what it becomes - no longer just a tribite - as soon as the swoosh appears).

posted by JJ at 02:17 PM on June 14

Nike makes no mention that Tiger's dad died. That is subtext that you bring to the ad -- granted, you and about a billion other golf fans -- still, there's nothing inherently morbid about the message. Nike made a Father's Day card, and they signed it. That Nike is a profoundly huge corporation shouldn't, in my opinion, preclude them from the opportunity to make a gesture like this to their employee (Woods) AND their clients, together. If we want to jump on bad advertising campaigns, let's start somewhere else. Like Capital One. "What's In Your Wallet?" Out of the blue in every ad. That campaign is so painfully bad it sucks my will to live.

posted by BullpenPro at 02:47 PM on June 14

I hope it comes to the last hole and he punches in a birdie, pumps his fist, then drops to one knee and looks at the sky in rememberance of his father. And I profoundly hope he doesn't. Do you believe it every time they say the next episode of ER is a "very special episode?" Because that's where you're headed, wishing for maudlin, saccharine crap like that. "This week, a very special episode of the U.S. Open..."

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:06 PM on June 14

yukongold hit it on the nose, Nike is just using it's advertising budget (the hugest in the world) to honor one of its employees, just so happens it's near fathers day when Tiger decides to reemerge. Lostindajungle will still buy Nike products guaranteed.

posted by Number6 at 03:45 PM on June 14

From my blog: The ad itself is pretty tasteful, with just one Nike swoosh right at the end of it -- no mention of golf shoes or clubs or anything of that ilk. Still, I find myself a little uneasy about it. It's not the thought of Nike wanting to do something to honor Earl Woods, and it's pretty clear Tiger approves of it. I think it's more the thought of a corporation even approaching someone with the idea. Even brooking the subject would seem to be difficult. "We know your father just died, and seeing how it's Father's Day this weekend and also one of the year's biggest marketing opportunities for us, we thought we'd put together a montage and tack our logo on at the end. What do you say?" Again, the ad is done tastefully, and perhaps Nike and Woods know one another so well that the possibility of upsetting its most recognizable face never crossed its organizational mind. But I know I would have considered it, and probably not have taken the chance.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:54 PM on June 14

Agreed, JJ. I'd be lying if I wasn't hoping the swoosh didn't appear at the end, but I think it's inevitable that it does. Having said that I think it's as understated as possible. If there's genuine sentiment behind it, Nike's in a tough spot because the can't stop being the biilion dollar monster that they are. I still feel it's more about the father and the son, not the son who lost a father. And while I don't have the link to prove it I feel like there was a similar ad last year with the open and father's day...could be imagining that though. From the website perspective I really appreciated the "call to action" to invite your Dad to play golf on Father's Day. (not to mention it's a pretty slick little layout for the form) ...and doubly agreed on the throwing up in the mouth thing.

posted by YukonGold at 04:02 PM on June 14

I don't have a problem with the ad. Either I'm old fashioned or just a sucker (and I've been called worse) but I think Nike just wanted to do something for Tiger and for people who have or had a nice relationship with their father. I know I'll be watching the final round on Sunday. And I'm lucky enough to be watching it with my Dad. Happy Fathers Day, Pop! And all men out there who care enough to be a father.

posted by Desert Dog at 04:27 PM on June 14

Happy Fathers Day, Pop! And all men out there who care enough to be a father. Well, excuse the hell outta me for not procreating. Apparently, I just don't care about...um, something. Sheesh.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:50 PM on June 14

By the way, that dead chicken link is hilarious. It could only happen in Liverpool - just ask Boris Johnson.

posted by afx237vi at 04:57 PM on June 14

Either I'm old fashioned or just a sucker (and I've been called worse) but I think Nike just wanted to do something for Tiger and for people who have or had a nice relationship with their father. I don't think Nike ever did a single thing that didn't have the bottom line firmly in the gunsights. Golf? Father's Day? Old guys in pastel pants putting around on the links, buying gear and clothing and logo shit? A warm, sepia-toned bonding experience between fathers and sons? One of the most marketable faces in sports? And it's a moving tribute with absolutely no interest in driving sales? Even in the vanishingly unlikely event that that is true, Nike shouldn't be the messenger, simply because they have such a well-established history of using whatever they can to sell product.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 06:31 PM on June 14

I think it's a nice tribute to Tiger and his father. I prefer Nikes well thought out ad , to the cheesy voiceover piece i'm sure CBS will run numerous times on sunday while i'm trying to watch the tournement.

posted by yankee0758 at 06:45 PM on June 14

I am happy i look at the world thru rose coloured glasses. I see the ad as a tasteful tribute to a fine father and son pair on the son's first fathers day without his dad.I see it as a very large Hallmark card signed by the sender. If it was not signed people would probably assume Woods put it out himself, then they would bitch calling him a rich, pompous, ass. A very tasteful ad promoting a nice thought (happy fathers day ) signed by the sender. That is all I see.

posted by patch606 at 09:43 PM on June 14

TBH, what I mean by that is guys who have gotten a woman pregnant and who actually cared about it, cared enough to be a father to their child or children. There are so many guys who produce children with a woman and then don't give a shit. I meant happy fathers day to those men out there who take fatherhood seriously. I didn't mean your'e less of a person if you don't have kids. I didn't have my first kid until my late 30's, so believe me, I've heard it all. Sheesh.

posted by Desert Dog at 11:00 PM on June 14

lbb, that's fine. That's how you see Nike as a corporation and there's nothing they can do to change it. If your local microbrewery (run by the nicest guys who started with a dollar and a dream) was having a "Bring your Dad, get him a free beer" promotion would you feel the same way? As is, this promotion makes no direct money for Nike. The point of it (as is in the email blast I received) was to watch a father's day tribute and then invite your Dad to play golf. Do they hope you'll be wearing pastel pants with a Nike logo on them? Sure. But there's nothing in the sentiment of inviting your Dad to play golf that says you need to do so with Nike clubs and balls, or you'll never have that warm, sepia-toned bonding experience.

posted by YukonGold at 07:11 AM on June 15

I'm sorry guys - it's a fantastic wonderful and creative ad that is as emotionally manipulative as Disney. These guys are outstanding at what they do. But I think you're making a very big mistake if you remotely doubt that 100% of what they do is sell Nike shit. Just because they've managed to do it so well that they've not just managed to find the zeitgeist, they ARE the zeitgeist does not mean that they're mission is not clear. Become relevant in pop culture and sell Nike shit. The email delivery is new-age viral marketing. They know exactly what they're doing. And they're leveraging your relationship with your father, and they know you know that Tiger's dad recently died (and they don't have to mention it) and they're making sure you associate the warm fuzzies with Nike. It's the classic model of branding. Become so relevant that you don't even have to show your products - just your brand. Ultimately, whether or not you decide it's crass, tasteless or tasteful is your choice. But don't give them credit for anything more than creative advertising. That is what this is. That is it's purpose - selling shit and making sure your association with Nike is more than just your knowledge of their labour practices. The fact that there is any debate at all is a testament to their mastery at this.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:38 AM on June 15

Weedy, without a doubt. It's not my intention to seem naive to that fact that everything Nike does (or any business trying to turn a profit) is about increasing revenues. Well said.

posted by YukonGold at 10:05 AM on June 15

This ad may have been the one I was thinking of, archival footage and all. More brilliance. Plus, how they did it

posted by YukonGold at 10:12 AM on June 15

Yeah - it's a fucking amazingly well thought out piece of advertising. The thing that separates Nike, for me, from most companies is that the people at the top just plain GET modern marketing. As a guy who worked in advertising for the better part of five years, I found that the most frustrating part of it (and the main reason why most ads suck) is that the client couldn't understand the need for subtlety and story-telling. They all think their product is awesome and that all they need to do is show a picture of it and tell people where they can find it, to sell it. Nike understands that the really important thing is to be relevant. And they let their creative people do thier job with minimal interference. There aren't many companies in the world that would both approve this ad, and be in the position to know that it would work, because they've been laying the ground work for 25 years.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:16 AM on June 15

That's how you see Nike as a corporation and there's nothing they can do to change it. They could stop outsourcing their manufacturing to factories full of abused workers. That might change my image of them.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:20 AM on June 15

Yukon - I missed that first time around - sheer class. (Although they cock it up ever so slightly at the end - there's no tree by the first tee at St Andrews - and if there were, it would have leaves on it in July). [/pedant]

posted by JJ at 10:23 AM on June 15

The first time i saw a Nike product was back in the mid '70's. One of the track guys (i played baseball) brought in a pair of shoes that were light, cheap, and well made.Curiously the logo looked similar to puma's logo, who were one of the most popular athletic shoe companies of that time. Fast forward about 15 years, i was coaching a HS base ball team, and it seemed everything these kids had on , from there shoes to there hat, to include there gloves, had the Nike swoosh on it. I wonder how Puma's doing these days?

posted by yankee0758 at 11:25 AM on June 15

What a crock. Take it for what it is, nothing more, nothing less. A series of videos of a young Tiger and the man who raised him, that, many people have probably never seen. Even a non golfer can appreciate the ad. If you buy their overpriced crap just because it has that "swoosh" deal on it, or you think that their equipment is the best because their fleet of high profile athletes wear it, you deserve to be taken to the cleaners. Hell, I like clever advertisements, but they sure don't affect my purchasing decisions. I have enjoyed quite a few Nike ads over the years, they do indeed have creative people working for them, but so does Budweiser, and you'll never catch me drinkin that swill. The main goal of advertising is to cement a name in your mind, and Nike did that long ago, to anyone who watches sports on the tube, anyway.

posted by mjkredliner at 11:32 AM on June 15

"Either I'm old fashioned or just a sucker (and I've been called worse) but I think Nike just wanted to do something for Tiger and for people who have or had a nice relationship with their father." Seriously?? When has Nike ever paid big money to air an advertisement celebrating the relationship one of their VP's had with his father? The ad space they're using isn't cheap. Hmmph, and here I thought the generation after mine would be alot more savvy to advertising and media manipulation. Survey Says! XXX!

posted by LostInDaJungle at 12:33 PM on June 15

Oh, and more relevant, Winged Foot is flexing it's muscles early in the Championship.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:43 PM on June 15

What? Open coverage interrupted for World Cup soccer? Paraguay and Sweden? Now I'm really glad they only have that deal every 4 years!

posted by mjkredliner at 02:06 PM on June 15

Maybe when it switches to NBC you'll be spared Chris Berman.

posted by YukonGold at 03:18 PM on June 15

OMG, he's horrible! Only a "you're with me leather" reference can save this coverage. Where's Mike Tirico?

posted by YukonGold at 04:21 PM on June 15

What media manipulation, Jungle? If watching this commercial or any advertisement make you go out and purchase a product based solely on the ad, you obviously can't think for yourself. And you're right about one of the VP's losing their father. But the VP's face isn't plastered everywhere like Tiger's. People around the world don't care about the VP like they do Tiger. I just take the commercial for what it is. I don't feel Nike is trying to manipulate anyone. If you're manipulated by this commercial, you need to get a life. Sorry if I seem un-savvy. I didn't get much sleep last night. I'll try harder tomorrow to be more cynical.

posted by Desert Dog at 04:44 PM on June 15

Looks likes this will be all we'll be seeing of Tiger on Sunday.

posted by SummersEve at 05:08 PM on June 15

Weedy, I'm glad you included the 'approval' part of the process, because in the end this ad had a budget that had to be approved. Like Jungle says above, the air time ain't free. DesertDog, the manipulation is that you watched the commercial and liked it, and that emotional response is the means to serve Nike's end purpose. That the commercial has a swoosh is just subliminal branding, and at that point, you've already been manipulated.

posted by garfield at 05:20 PM on June 15

You mean I've not only been manipulated, but SUBLIMINALLY MANIPULATED??? I feel so...dirty. Oh well, I've got to go buy some Nike products, but I'm not sure why. Just do it!

posted by Desert Dog at 06:16 PM on June 15

lbb, that's fine. That's how you see Nike as a corporation and there's nothing they can do to change it. If your local microbrewery (run by the nicest guys who started with a dollar and a dream) was having a "Bring your Dad, get him a free beer" promotion would you feel the same way? Meaning, would I believe they had the bottom line in mind when they did it? Of course I would. But there's an important difference. My local microbrewery, which started with a dollar and a dream, makes a very fine product and pays its workers a living wage. They do almost no advertising; they have no millionaire endorsement deals, or indeed any endorsement deals at all. They have no seven-plus-figure executives. They promote to increase sales to continue running their business the way they want, just as Nike does -- but there's an important difference in how they run their business.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:47 PM on June 15

lbb, obviously you, too, have been subliminally manipulated. A good microbrew can do that to a man.

posted by Desert Dog at 08:47 PM on June 15

/leaves that well alone, on tiptoes even they have no millionaire endorsement deals, or indeed any endorsement deals at all. They have no seven-plus-figure executives. But in the abstract, what is the difference between the smallest capitalist organization, and the largest?

posted by yerfatma at 09:14 PM on June 15

Accountability?

posted by JJ at 02:40 AM on June 16

I can't find a link for it yet, but USA Today says: FOX announcer Joe Buck, in an Anheuser-Busch ad timed for Fathers' Day Sunday, pays tribute to his father Jack, the longtime sportscaster who died in 2002 ... Buck worked with copywriters but says some "things that came to the top of my mind" get in the ad. If a company like Nike or Anheuser-Busch asked me to put something together to honor my dad, I'd probably do it in a heartbeat.

posted by SummersEve at 06:13 AM on June 16

If a company like Anheuser Busch asked me to put something together to honor all the product of theirs I'd consumed in my life, I'd probably do it in a heartbeat.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:34 AM on June 16

Accountability? I'd go along with that. Even in the abstract, there is that difference.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:10 AM on June 16

If a company like Nike or Anheuser-Busch asked me to put something together to honor my dad, I'd probably do it in a heartbeat. Why would you need a company's sponsorship to put something together that honors your dad?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:11 AM on June 16

Why would you need a company's sponsorship to put something together that honors your dad? Did I say anywhere that I needed sponsorship? Nope, just said if they asked me to do it, I would probably be honored to do so.

posted by SummersEve at 08:50 AM on June 16

Mileage varies, SummersEve. I think Tiger Woods' case is a bit different because he is a public figure, and so his father had some public recognition. The idea of a corporate-sponsored tribute to my dad is just silly to me -- and I think even if I were a public figure, and as great as my dad was, I'd rather keep such things private.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:12 AM on June 16

Understood. We differ in that. I would still see it as an honor, assuming it had some relevance or some connection to him (i.e. The Woods' being connected to golf or The Bucks' connected to baseball) I'm surprised more people don't feel that way. I totally see your point, and I'm not trying to change your view or anything. I just thought more people would see such "sponsorship" as an honor. But, like you pointed out, neither I nor my dad is famous. If one of us were, my feelings could be different.

posted by SummersEve at 09:28 AM on June 16

Personally, I think that a corporate tie-in would cheapen the whole thing. I would not see it as an honour. Really, the corporation couldn't give a shit about my dad if it felt it wouldn't sell a product. That's their job.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:40 AM on June 16

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