Nike is trying to resurrect both Tiger Woods and his dad in a slightly creepy but compelling new ad.
Now we know how the sports company juggernaut plans to hang on to its golden-egg-laying goose who disruptively flashed naked tail feathers to the world.
I'm not the best person to weigh out the mosh pit of feelings about Woods, since golf is such a huge presence in a lot of people's considerations. The second and last time I tried to play golf, 10 years ago, I actually killed a bird that had taken off from the rough exactly as I finally connected like a hammer with a ball off the third tee at a course in Hawaii. By the time I ran downfield to check it out -- friends were jumping up and down and yelling -- I only found a small puddle of feathers and blood.
I figured right then if I was going to do something lethal for recreation, it would involve a shotgun and red vest, not plaid pants and green jackets.
But even I had a reaction to the Nike ad, where maudlin expertly meets the big machine of a smart P.R. operation. Woods stares balefully and enigmatically into the camera as what turns out to be the voice of his late dad asks him kindly but firmly if he's thought about what he's doing or learned anything from it. At first you don't know if it's Tiger himself doing voiceover or maybe some non-judgmental but wounded fan looking for answers.
I know the man talking is Earl Woods because the stories about the ad say so, so Nike is even using non-paid guerilla marketing to amp up the drama.
Was Tiger actually listening to his beloved dad's voice when they shot the footage, or did they add the sound later and just teed the golfer up on what kind of look to affect, a step up from his weird, wooden, stage-managed apology appearance? Is Tiger learning to get in touch with his emotions or are lessons in method acting part of his rehab?
This isn't a fun mash-up, like Natalie Cole digitally joining her dead dad, Nat King, for a video duet. And it's somehow more suspicious and cold-blooded than Fred Astaire photoshopped into a Dirt Devil ad or the ghost image of John Wayne unknowingly hawking Coors Light.
For me the ad is like those situations among the social set where a lonely woman in the bar who doesn't want to be attracted to that bad boy character making eye contact with her, but she can't help herself and is even more drawn in because of that tension (it works the same in reverse). I know I'm getting hustled here, but I still went back and watched it a few times.
I guess it's kind of brilliant, if shameless, though I haven't run out yet and bought a new Nike product. Even I have my standards.
What do you think of Tiger's new ad? Is it brilliant, or just offensive? I wonder what Elin thinks...