Give Nike credit, few companies are as consistent and true to their Brand as they. Just do it. Take the bull by the horns. Achieve your goals. No regrets.
For better or worse, they’ve stood by Tiger Woods while other companies who had prospered from his endorsement dropped him. You can’t fault Accenture and others for dumping Tiger. After all, with his scandalous behavior now exposed, Tiger no longer represented their interests well. It was the safe, expedient move. But great rewards go to the risk takers. Those who just do it.
Nike was unequivocal in backing Tiger as the scandal engulfed him. In supporting Tiger, Phil Knight, Founder and Chairman of Nike, bluntly maintained that, “when his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip.” He further shrugged off the scandal as just, “part of the game,” of sponsorships.
Of course, with so much money already invested in Tiger and their entire golf equipment and sportswear business built around him, Nike had much at stake. The cynic might suggest that Nike had no choice but to stand by Tiger. That Tiger was Nike’s version of, “too big to fail.”
Still, they could have simply kept Tiger under contract, laid low and let the scandal play out itself. And now, as Tiger returns to the game of golf on its grandest stage, The Masters, Nike could have played it safe. Ignore the scandal. Focus on the golf. Pick up where they left off as though Tiger’s indiscretions never happened. But that would be disingenuous. That is not the Nike Brand.
Instead, Nike powerfully confronts the scandal with their new Tiger Woods TV spot featuring the voice of the late Earl Woods. It’s uncomfortable. It’s controversial. It’s inspired.
We can argue whether Tiger is truly remorseful or just sorry he got caught. We can argue whether or not it is right to use the recording of a dead man who cannot approve its use. We can argue all of this and more. And we will. But one thing is clear: the “Earl Woods” spot is true to the Nike Brand. It is not safe. It is not expedient. It is, however, the right thing to do.