Four and a half months is a long time to hold your breath waiting for an iconic figure to return to advertising . . . er, sorry, make that golf. In fact, thanks to Nike, Wieden + Kennedy and the Masters golf tournament, make that both -- and at almost the exact same moment.
Adweek critic Barbara Lippert observes, "In all of my years of reviewing commercials, I have never seen a single spot evoke such a media firestorm -- and without a single wardrobe malfunction."
Lippert gives her considered take here , and also adds, "In the end, the eerie, black-and-white, slowed-down film of Tiger's blinking head has some of the same power and properties as Lyndon Johnson's famous "Daisy" commercial from his presidential run in 1964. The audio and visuals are at unexpected odds, and the disconnect is upsetting, annoying and unforgettable."
The Adweek team gathered advertising professionals' reactions to Nike's "Earl and Tiger" spot below. Further down, we also rounded up some key commentary from industry bloggers. The range of responses was surprisingly narrow, with a vast majority impressed by the execution and the brand's boldness.
"It's great. What would your dad think? What a question. Tiger was completely humiliated and now he has humility." --Gerry Graf, CCO, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
"While I think it's an incredibly cool and riveting piece that you'd expect from Wieden + Kennedy, I think Tiger looks rather pathetic, like the dog who just peed on the carpet with those big eyes asking for forgiveness." --Steve Connelly, president, CCO, Connelly Partners, Boston
"Love it. I think it makes the point that you can love him or hate him for his actions off the course, but ON the course he's the greatest golfer to ever play the game. Period." --Ty Montague, outgoing North American CCO, JWT, New York
"I love it. What I think Nike sometimes does incredibly well is make the brand and the athlete the same thing. For all intents and purposes, this is an ad for Tiger. Nike is along for the ride. But that's its brilliance as only Nike can do because of what it has built in the past. It's an incredible statement of the brand's beliefs and audacity told through a discussion Tiger has with his father. Again, they made Nike, Tiger himself." --Kevin Roddy, CCO, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York
"I love the new Nike spot. It is a bold and gutsy commercial. Imagine, a TV commercial that has people talking. It already has generated so much buzz for Nike. We are a very forgiving society. We love to see our heroes screw up and then apologize in public (see Nixon, Clinton, Kobe, Britney, etc.). This is a far stronger public apology than any of the lame 'press conferences' we have seen. It is a brilliant Shakespearian moment delivered flawlessly. The ghost of the father coming back to remind the young son to think about what he has done. 'Did you learn anything?' Kudos to whoever found that powerful sound bite and made the leap to attach it to this unique moment in time." --Andy Hirsch, co-ecd, Merkley + Partners, New York
"Nike could have sat back and hidden from the issue, but instead they walk right into it, offer no apologies, and along the way give Tiger a little (well-deserved) scolding. The Nike brand -- and this daring ad -- is a winner and I applaud the fact that they continue to be part of the societal conversation, as we've seen them do in the past (Charles Barkley's "I am not a role model" and "If you let me play" for women). As marketers and advertisers, Nike reminds us that sometimes you have to take a risk and stay true to your brand values." --Val DiFebo, CEO, Deutsch, New York
"I like it. It's deeply affecting and creepy in an engaging way. But then I wasn't a fan of Tiger until he went off the rails. I mean, like, philandering Tiger -- now that's interesting." --Steve Wax, managing partner, Campfire, New York
"I may be in the minority here, but I commend Nike for taking a long-term view on protecting their investment. There is no evidence that he will be anything but an even bigger sports icon in the future." --Gaston Legorburu, CCO, SapientNitro, New York
"I think by now we have all realized that Tiger Woods is a better golfer than husband. His form on the golf course is admirable, but his form off the golf course is sort of sociopathic. That said, I felt like we were starting to move on and get past this. This spot sort of ripped the scab off the healing wound. Why do we have to bring his whoring back onto the golf course? Maybe Nike, along with the rest of us, has to accept the fact that Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world AND a cheating husband." --Stephen Goldblatt, ecd, EVB, San Francisco
"Once again, Nike has not shied away from controversy. Whether you like the spot or not, it's powerful and provocative. Personally, I like the spot and I give Nike and Wieden + Kennedy a lot of credit. In a world full of contradictions, it's interesting that Earl Woods is the voiceover given his rumored infidelities. Secondly, it's ironic that Tiger, who shields his family from the media, brings his beloved father into the conversation." --Stephen Larkin svp, brand evangelist, Mullen, Boston