April 8, 2010: Nike has finally unveiled the first TV spot featuring Tiger Woods since the golfer fell from grace following his SUV accident outside his home in the early morning of Thanksgiving Day 2009. The TV spot breaks a day after Billy Payne, chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, site of The Masters, took Woods to task for the actions that have turned the golfer's personal life into a public soap opera.
The commercial, from Wieden + Kennedy, features Woods and the voice of his late father, Earl, who died in 2006. This week, EA Sports also unveiled an online campaign to support its new Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online. (See Q&A with EA Sports president Peter Moore.)
Nike and EA have been Woods' strongest supporters over the past few months. Unlike the EA campaign, the Nike TV spot takes an introspective , soul-searching tone than product promotion. The spot takes a far different tone than a Nike ad in 2009, which marked Woods return to the PGA Tour following knee surgery with a humorous look at how other golfers did not miss him because they were finally able to win tournaments.
"We support Tiger and his family. As he returns to competitive golf, the ad addresses his time away from the game using the powerful words of his father," Nike said in a statement.
The spot will run on ESPN, which is covering the first two rounds of The Masters, which marks Woods first competitive foray since winning The Australian Masters in mid-November.
Payne addressed Woods and his lifestyle choices during a press conference in Augusta. "We are aware of the significance this week to a very special player," Payne said. "As he ascended in our rankings of the world's great golfers, he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort. But as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.
"Is there a way forward? I hope yes. I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change. I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.
"I hope [Woods] can come to understand that life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people," Payne continued. "We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here [on April 8] in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time, with a significant difference from the past."
In the 30-second spot, "Earl and Tiger," filmed in black and white, Woods wears a Nike hat and sweater and stares stoically at the camera as his father speaks. "Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive to promote discussion. I want to find out what your think was, I want to find out what your feelings are, and did you learn anything."
Nike said the spot would only run for a limited time and did not indicate whether or not follow up TV spots would continue the same tone or style.