Mark Grimm


Nike’s Tiger Ad: Infidelity Isn’t So Bad

Nike Facebook ad

Infidelity isn’t really so bad. Nike says so.

A new Tiger Woods ad available on Nike’s Facebook page that proclaims “Winning Takes Care of Everything” has sparked a fierce debate. Woods just regained the world’s no. 1 ranking as a golfer for the first time since his marriage scandal became public in 2009. Nike hopes to cash in on his new success and is doing what it hoped to do with the ad — draw attention to Tiger and their company.

There’s been passionate and mixed reaction. One Facebook entry (Eric McDonald) stated, ” ‘Winning’ didn’t take care of his little girl who saw daddy teach that women are expendable sex objects.” Another (Janice Owens): “Any behavior is OK as long as you win at sports? This is a HORRIBLE message to send to young people.” Ad supporters countered, (Kyle Janiga) “Most of you need to get a life and look in the skeletons in your closet?” Another (Robert Gecy) wrote, “Most of the naysayers have an ax to grind with Nike or just don’t like Tiger in the 1st place.”

The ad is controversial because it confronts our values. Just where does winning fit in our list of priorities? How great an offense is infidelity? What is the time frame for contrition? Is all publicity good for selling sports gear?

Nike claims the ad was simply “a salute to his (Tiger’s) athletic performance.” They would also tell you they were shocked to discover there was gambling going on in Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca (1).

Do you believe Tiger’s humiliated ex wife feels his improved golf game has “taken care of everything?” What about his kids? If Nike believes “winning takes care of everything,” why did it dump cyclist Lance Armstrong? He won seven Tour de Frances.

Our real heroes don’t swing golf clubs, dunk basketballs or star in movies. They do the everyday things that matter to their families and their customers. Not one of them is perfect. And yes, many everyday Americans cheat on their spouses. But they don’t ever suggest sports achievement makes up for it.

There’s no question Tiger Woods is a great golfer. But he needs to take a mulligan (2) on his latest ad.

The writer is former TV journalist and adjunct media professor who runs a communications firm.

(1) In the 1942 film Casablanca, Captain Renault proclaimed he was “shocked, shocked” to learn there was gambling in Rick’s Café, as he pocketed his winnings for the evening.

(2) In recreational golf, if you hit a poor shot off the tee you’re allowed to “take a mulligan” by  taking another shot.