Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
So there's a buzz on the net today about this new Nike ad.
From a branding perspective, it's amazing.
Nike is one of the few sponsors that stuck with Tiger ever since his sordid lifestyle came to light and took him away from golf for a number of months.
Don't get me wrong, I don't condone what Tiger has done and at this point, don't see him as much of a role model. But at the end of the day, what Tiger does or doesn't do, isn't likely to make me buy more Nike shoes or T-shirts.
What is, is the fact that Nike didn't bail on him. They zagged when so many others zigged and did the unexpected thing by not dropping Tiger. For those companies that did drop him, especially in light of this new ad, they have managed to communicate one thing: “we're better than Tiger and therefore he's not fit to represent us” - a branding disaster.
Nike on the other hand, did what they do best; they communicated like humans...fallible, broken people just like the rest of us, who all need a second chance. That resonates with other humans (note: humans, not consumers make up most of your audience).
To top it all off, they did this in a way that didn't let Tiger off the hook at all. They didn't have the moral authority to scold him publicly and nor should they. Instead, they acknowledged the problem and in an incredibly creative way (by using his late father's voice), let us in on some of Tiger's accountability. It's a win for Tiger as humility will be the foundation of his ability to recover and come back from this situation, and it reinforces Nike's brand of being caring and human.
Nike has something to teach North American Christianity here.
If we were to start thinking a bit more about how our audience thinks and sees stuff, our communications would look a lot different. Nike could have focussed on the outright selling of product here, but instead, they looked at the bigger picture and created affinity in the hearts of their audience...a brand impression that gives them an opportunity to be heard, now, or in the future.
What if our church and ministry communications took the bigger picture as well? Campaigns that highlight fallible, broken people that by the grace of God and no doing of our own, found an answer to life's questions and care enough to want to share that with other fallible, broken people...because after all, that's just what we are.
I think we'd end up looking a lot more like Nike and a lot less like the other companies who walked away from Tiger.