Before we get into the meat of this story, take a look at the following advertisement and ask yourself this: “Does this ad send the wrong message?”
The ad, posted on Facebook and Twitter, is supposed to allude to the fact that the golfer recovered from career stumbles to regain his world No. 1 ranking on Monday, which he lost in October 2010.
Woods has long used the phrase — at least since 2009 — whenever reporters ask him about his or other golfers’ rankings.
But some say it’s inappropriate in light of Woods’ past marital woes, which include a divorce stemming from his having slept with a string of women who were not his wife, including nightclub hostesses, cocktail waitresses, a porn star, and various models.
His 5-year marriage to Elin Nordegren collapsed in 2010 after the multiple affairs came to light.
The ad has garnered more than 8,000 likes and 2,000 shares on Facebook, as well as hundreds of comments, many congratulating Woods on the ranking. In fact, if you head over to Nike Golf’s Facebook page, it’s almost 100 percent negative comments-free, which is practically impossible considering this is the Internet:
Of course, on different social media platforms, there has been some negative reaction to the ad.
Annie Kessler, 25, in Columbus, Ohio, tweeted that the ad was a “poor choice” for Nike. She said in an interview that she felt compelled to tweet because even though she understands why Nike would want to promote Woods, the phrase itself is inappropriate because of Woods’ past infidelity.
Nike spokeswoman Beth Gast said that the ad references Wood’s refrain that he competes to win.
“When asked about his goals such as getting back to number one, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there,” she said in an email to The Associated Press. “The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance.”
Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates in New York, said the ad signals that Nike believes it is time Woods — who in addition to his new No. 1 ranking is now in a much-touted relationship with Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn — is back in the spotlight.
“They’re looking at this and saying, ‘Time has passed, he’s winning again, it’s time to turn up the volume on our association,’ ” he said. “But it’s risky when you associate with a celebrity only based on winning or losing. Consumers care about how you play the game: both the actual game and the game of life.”
The ad comes after Nike has had to sever ties with two other high-profile athletes. It dropped Lance Armstrong in October, before Armstrong himself came clean in January, citing insurmountable evidence that he participated in doping and misled the company about those activities for more than a decade.
And in February it suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee runner from South Africa charged with premeditated murder in the Valentine’s Day killing of his girlfriend.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.