The Nike Ad: Tiger the Brand Finally Conquers Tiger the Man

Why is the new Nike ad with a downcast yet proudly resilient Tiger Woods hearing the voice of his dead father making me so furious? It defies logic. After all, we just came through a week during which we saw film footage of the US military taking part in what is being called “collateral murder.” Death threats have been sent to Democratic members of Congress by right wing lunatics for the crime of passing a healthcare bill that could have been penned by Mitt Romney. And then take Pope Benedict and his Catholic defenders. Seriously. Please take them. I’d suggest somewhere hot.

In the context of our enduring global fever-dream, a tacky ad in which Nike and Tiger conspire to exploit the memory of Earl Woods is hardly that big a deal–particularly since if Earl Woods were alive, he would have supported this exercise in grave robbing 100 percent. But the idea that Tiger and Nike would see the incredible turmoil that has engulfed Tiger’s life as an opportunity to rebrand Tiger and sell us more swoosh-laden crap is simply sickening. Every single member of the golf media and every fan who has felt sympathy for his self-destructive plight should feel like a grade-A sucker. Every person impressed with his professed recommitment to the Buddhist faith and his family should be deeply offended that it was all just a springboard aimed at cashing in. And every golf fan and pro golfer should be furious that he’s shellacked another layer of controversy onto the most prestigious tournament on the tour, the Masters at Augusta.

There is a small part of me delighted that Tiger’s awful ad will further cloud an event whose history of segregation and exclusion would even give pause to our Confederate Governnor of Virginia, “Robert E.” McDonnell.

But any joy at the discomfort of grown men with ten figure bank accounts named Hootie and Billy is outpaced by the sheer cultural rock bottom that this ad represents, not to mention what it says about Woods himself.

I really believed that in the wake of his Odyssey of scandal and humiliation, there would be a showdown inside Tiger’s soul between the brand and the man. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is no man, only brand. If he wants to dehumanize himself on his own time then more power to him. But this ad dehumanizes all of us. One thing however is abundantly clear: If Tiger loses this weekend, Nike loses as well. Neither deserve to make the cut, on the course or otherwise. Tiger the brand has now wholly consumed Tiger the man.

Dave Zirin is the author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love (Scribner). He can be reached at: Read other articles by David, or visit David's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rosemarie jackowski said on April 9th, 2010 at 9:19am #

    The media exploitation of the Wood’s family very private matter amounts to child abuse. Imagine how the children will be affected by all of this publicity.

    There is enough fault to go around – Tiger, the media, and women who insert themselves into other people’s marriages.

    The TV air time that has been allotted to all of this is mind numbing. Meanwhile, major media is almost totally ignoring the real news – such as the video of the slaughter of civilians.

  2. bozh said on April 9th, 2010 at 10:20am #

    Rosemarie, yes!
    We ?all [exceptions being priests; since they just relate to us what gods are saying] make mistakes; so running dwn woods= running dwn all of us.

    However, the poor MSM is desperate for any non-news that some people evaluate as news.

  3. Don Hawkins said on April 9th, 2010 at 2:36pm #

    Dave that last paragraph, yep.

  4. bubba said on April 9th, 2010 at 9:32pm #

    Rosemarie, I agree with the fact that the media is obsessed with this… e.g. Larry King last night was about Tiger Woods for the entire hour. But about “women inserting themselves in a marriage”, this argument is flawed. What loyalty do these women owe her? Let’s put the blame where it clearly belongs, on Tiger, he’s the one who betrayed his wife.

    It’s troubling how top headlines are now becoming more and more about this kind of crap, like recently Sandra Bullock getting a divorce. The powers in control are getting what they want: an uninformed public.

  5. Deadbeat said on April 10th, 2010 at 12:33am #

    I disagree with you bubba. It takes TWO to tango and these women KNEW Tiger was married. They were clearly hoping for a “pay day”. Perhaps that “pay day” is now why Tiger has to work “harder” to “sell” himself. Unfortunately under Capitalism, marriage, divorce, and or most intimate human relationships commodifies people and seeks to passify them.

  6. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 4:10am #

    because PR gurus know that if you repeat something often enough, people will eventually believe it. In not to many years these PR gurus who come in many different forms will have one hell of a time spinning much of anything. Then what wait don’t tell me the next level not so much spin but you will believe and the question comes up in what? Imagine a World without Fox New’s or CNN, talking heads, fossil fuels, War, PR gurus, little God’s and on and on into the cosmos now imagine a world with all those confident way’s of thinking and the date today is April 10,2010. The brand and there is this brand of planet that so far from what we know is the only one that will support life so far and it’s called Earth.

  7. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 4:27am #

    Hello I wrote a few comments on a web site for Hollywood and the Start’s you know review’s and such just my regular stuff well the last time I got permission denied, oh dear free speech seems to be the wrong brand for some. Maybe I should have written I love you very very much your greatest fan. Maybe it was some quotes from Einstein or Sagan they couldn’t get there head around. “Permission denied”

  8. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 4:56am #

    Well after getting “Permission denied” it made me think. I’ve changed or it changed me from now on Fox New’s will be the only new’s I watch fair and balanced and am going to join the tea party I thinking Palin or Newt in 2012 it’s check and mate mates come join me in the greatest nation on Earth go shopping and call call now maybe some of you have some other brands confident ideology’s we want to get our heads around there must be a few more on the third planet from the Sun. Oh I will only buy my gas at Exxon stations now because they love me very very much and any extra money I have I will invest in the company. Drill baby drill any new war’s we can think of that need to be started? Newt in 2012 we need to get back to our root’s. USA USA

  9. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 6:19am #

    And remember what Michelle Baughman (R-MN) said the other day that tea party people are just real Americans who like freedom not like toothless hillbilly’s so we all need good teeth and get a suit and tie and say after me USA USA drill baby drill and don’t hug a tree never you will be put on a list titled left wing radical nut jobs with probably bad teeth. Today go shopping and just maybe you might need a self help book Glenn Beck has a new one out I hear. I think he has this project with a snake as a symbol so cool.

  10. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 8:46am #

    New from James Hansen Bozh read this what do you think

    This is not the 17th century, when “beliefs” trumped science, forcing Galileo to recant his understanding
    of the solar system. The President should unequivocally support the climate science community, which is
    under politically orchestrated assault on the legitimacy of its scientific assessments. If he needs
    reassurance or cover, the President can ask for a prompt report from the National Academy of Sciences,
    established by Abraham Lincoln for advice on technical issues.

  11. Don Hawkins said on April 10th, 2010 at 12:50pm #

    So far the Sun revolves around the Earth or we the people revolve around the corporations and the chances of what Hansen just wrote don’t look good. The old PR machine will be in full very soon and made to seem like all is well and under control. So far from the fool’s it’s so be it let’s go down together well almost. As the problem itself shows itself more and more then what if we don’t give this a real try? Orwell comes to mind except Orwell didn’t know about a ruined Earth and how that might play out. WATER

  12. bozh said on April 10th, 2010 at 1:08pm #

    Root cause, to me, [i hope others wld think ab this] of all evil on int’l and interpersonal levels being division; broadly, into lessvalued and morevalaued, the morevalued wld never allow own devaluation.
    A mere fear or perception that their wealth wld decrease by going green, much, or completely green suffices for them not to do anything to save biota on this planet.
    The same cause causes us to also devalue nature even more than the our masters devalue us; usually 90%+ people just ab everywhere.
    At one time and up to a time i had devalued the nature also. Most people have, tho. And still do.
    We do that because our masters are master liars and via schooling, holliwood, advertising, other entertainment or gossip like on CNN, teach our children to become abusers of nature and people.

    So the task appears to tell people ab the root cause of all evil, including for global warming, and to keep the children away from these criminals!
    We need to tell people: look, all entertainment, newscast, MSM, pols, priests, actors, lawyers, pols do is gossip.
    Or on an don ab tiny warts. And even tho they are tiny, never ever talk ab the cause for warts nor how to remove them. Poor children have no defences as they think gossip is knowledge and gossipers super or starlike people. tnx

  13. mary said on April 26th, 2010 at 1:04pm #

    John Pilger refers to Dave Zirin in his latest article –

    Give sport back to the fans

    Published 22 April 2010

    Rapacious business interests have made profit the new first principle of top-class sport. But all over the world, from South Africa to Liverpool and Manchester, fans are mobilising to reclaim the people’s pleasure.