Nike and Tiger Woods are no strangers to controversy. Nike has created its brand tying its name to famous athlete. That can be either a boom or bust proposition. Just ask them about Lance Armstrong.
Tiger, on the other hand, is trying to remake his once invincible image and Nike is going along for the ride. What’s creating controversy is while Armstrong has been vilified for his version of cheating, Woods is getting a much different treatment from Nike as he rebounds from HIS version of cheating (which was about marital infidelity and not the game he plays, for now at least).
So now Tiger has fought his way back to the top of his profession as he regains the number 1 ranking in the world of golf. Nike’s response? This message that was put throughout their social channels.
The Washington Post reports that the reactions are all over the map.
No sooner had Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and regained the No. 1 ranking in the world than Nike celebrated the moment on Facebook and Twitter.
The company that sponsors Woods proclaimed, in his own words, “Winning takes care of everything.” It’s a phrase he often uses when talking to reporters about himself and other golfers. But because this is Tiger Woods, Nike’s swaggering post is also being perceived as a reminder of his not-so-positive, womanizing past.
“This is another case of Nike being Nike,” Los Angeles-based sports marketing consultant David Carter told USA Today. “The tagline will reinforce both people who support Tiger or are put off by him. For some people, this will be seen as another case of an athlete who doesn’t understand how a big part of society views what he’s done.”
The ad has people talking, which, of course, is the purpose of ads. Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast defended it, telling the New York Daily News, “When asked about his goals such as getting back to number one, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there. The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance.”
This ad has created a stir in social media with people taking both sides of the argument whether this is a good message to be sending. Whether it’s good or not (depending on the measuring stick you are using) might not matter at all to Nike. They are obviously a company that will ride whatever angle they need to to make sure they are top of mind. Of course, if a society is looking to a company like Nike to be a moral barometer there may be bigger issues at hand, right?
What’s your response to this kind of marketing and messaging through social media? Good marketing? Crass? Doesn’t matter if it moves the brand forward? Bolsters a reputation? Hurts a reputation?