Keeping Score

Why Nike’s New Tiger Woods Ad Is Terribly Confusing

Tiger Woods tells his Twitter followers, in a new Nike ad, that golf is a sport. Why would we think otherwise? Hmmmm...

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Tiger Woods, like many superstar athletes, has a pretty banal Twitter feed. It’s full of the usual product propaganda, carefully crafted responses to media firestorms and prom pictures with an Olympic gold medalist. So I was caught a bit off guard when Woods fired off this missive to his nearly 3.4 million Twitter followers on Monday, just three days before the start of this year’s U.S. Open:

Whoa. So golf is a sport? I wasn’t aware of some pressing debate that it wasn’t. Sure, people are still quick to point out that chubby chain smokers like John Daly and Ángel Cabrera can win major championships. But a younger generation of golfers have followed Woods into the weight room: this year’s Masters champ, Aussie Adam Scott, looks like he’d rather smash a slice of pizza with a 9-iron than actually eat it. Golfers have worked hard to break the fat-guy-in-bad-pants stereotype.

Still, here was Woods, vouching for golf’s bona fides in a new Nike ad. And I couldn’t help but think that it backfired.

(MORE: Great Scott. An Australian Finally Wins the Masters)

I found the ad oh so confusing. At about the nine-second mark, Woods tees off, as dramatic music plays in the background. But in this “golf is a sport” world, a race starter stands beside the tee, says “on your marks,” then fires a gun before Woods swings. So this ad seems to be implying that if golf were an actual sport, not just a figment of Nike and Woods’ imagination, a starter would fire a gun. But since there is no “on your marks,” is the ad actually implying golf isn’t a sport? Is the ad making a subtle pitch to the PGA Tour? Hey, guys, start firing guns at the first tee. Such a move, by the way, would make golf way more fun and exciting.

In the next part of the clip, Woods barely misses a putt, and falls to the ground in agony. A boxing ref then shows up on the green, and starts counting — one, two. O.K., this one works as a metaphor: the game can feel like a knockout blow. (The starter gun can’t imply that golf is some sort of race, right? Has Nike seen how slow some of these guys play?)

The next part is the most maddening. Woods lines up a putt, with a throng of fans shouting in his face on the other side of the hole. Such crowd behavior would make golf a more legitimate sport. How come Woods gets to putt in silence, while foul shooters, kickers, baseball players and other athletes must execute their delicate tasks with maniacs screaming into their ears?

This scenario doesn’t need to be part of a fantasy ad. Golf, want to be a more legit sport? Let the gallery get into it! Even at Augusta! Patrons gone wild!

The next part is drivel: Woods takes another tee shot, this time with a catcher and umpire behind him. What does this mean, exactly? Last I checked, golf balls sit on a tee, waiting to be smacked. Baseballs sometimes scream at the heads of hitters, at 90 miles per hour.

Mercifully, the ad closes with Woods sinking what looks like a tournament-clinching putt. We see a closeup of his Nike shoes, and that’s it. All of which says … heck, I have no idea. Anyway, I’m certainly looking forward to the U.S. Open this week. Because golf is indeed a compelling sport — even without the catcher.

MORE: The Tiger Woods–Sergio Garcia Spat Takes a Racist Turn

53 comments
cjh2nd
cjh2nd

has the author ever watched tv or a movie before? this is an ad aimed at the lowest common denominator, it's not rocket science.  

ipsk
ipsk

The interesting thing about the commercial is that everything in it is stuff Tiger whines about on the course. Sergio whines about similar stuff. If you are an elite athlete you should be able to when you go to play your sport focus on just what you are about to do. Block out all the other distractions. That is what all the practice, visualization is about.

Why do you think Tiger does not play at the phoenix open anymore. 16th hole? 

Jdmartin86
Jdmartin86

People argue golf isn't a sport because it takes little to no athletic ability to play and win. This point distinguishes sports from games and, can be clear when contrasting activities such as billiards and archery to ice hockey and rock climbing.

Jdmartin86
Jdmartin86

People argue golf isn't a sport because it takes little to no athletic ability to play and win. This point distinguishes sports from games and, can be clear when contrasting activities such as billiards and archery to ice hockey and rock climbing.

Jdmartin86
Jdmartin86

People argue golf isn't a sport because it takes little to no athletic ability to play and win. This point distinguishes sports from games and, can be clear when contrasting activities such as billiards and archery to ice hockey and rock climbing.

EdGordon
EdGordon

I agree with j.w.d. below   it's an ad.  You mentioned Nike 6 times.  not bad

Janette
Janette

It isn't confusing, it's just bad.

Janette
Janette

Sweet Jesus, this ad is all kinds of terrible.

LarryMannino
LarryMannino

Actually, I think it's an interesting ad.  And I think it works, in that it addresses a likely broad (mis) perception/prejudice about sports like golf as being thought of 'second class' in terms of the demands upon the athletes who participate, especially as compared to more traditional 'sports' such as the ones referenced in the ad.  And, of course, with the tie-in to the athletic shoes and Nike brand image, the whole piece makes sense.  The context and contrasting elements work well to tell the story, the music is uplifting, and it requires no narration or exposition, which would otherwise get in the way of the emotional connection.  What's the problem again?

btesar49
btesar49

It's an ad for the TW14 Nike shoes that Tiger helped to design.  He wanted shoes that were more like the running shoes he wears during workouts.  Note that in the commercial there a close-up shots of the shoes, and at the end the TW14 is shown on the screen.  It's an ad for Tiger's golf shoes, which are made to be like other athletic shoes....presumably sending the message that, if you're involved in an athletic endeavor, wear athletic shoes.  How can that backfire?

whatsamattau
whatsamattau

When played at at a high skill level, these activities are not hobbies.  You should consult a dictionary.  Any activity played merely for recreation  or entertainment (think of softball) is a hobby.   That does not mean that the activity itself is not a sport.

Golf and darts have all the characteristics of sport.  It is a competition, they keep the score in an objective manner (it's either in the hole or it's not, the puck is either in the goal or it's not, the runner safely reached home or he/she didn't), the object is to perform an athletic act to acquire points of some kind, and a winner is determined based on the resulting scores.   Hitting a ball into a hole hundreds of yards away or hitting the bulls eye requires athletic skills, just as hitting a baseball or catching a football or shooting a puck requires skills.  Most of those you consider athletes have probably played both of these games and would most likely vehemently disagree with your ill-considered opinion.

On the other hand, I don't believe that I'd classify gymnastics or figure skating as sports, not because of what skills are required, but because the scoring is subjective.  I (just me, not a vast conspiracy of golfers and darters (?)) consider such activities as art, judged by a panel, but not sport.  Nonetheless, they are still quite entertaining and obviously require tremendous skill developed over years of practice.  That these activities do not  constitute sports simply means that they do not fit into the definition of sport because of the scoring glitch.   Unlike you, I would not denigrate them by calling them hobbies, fishing can be a hobby, stamp collecting is a hobby, gymnastics and golf are not hobbies in the sense that you are using them.


DrorBenAmi
DrorBenAmi

Golf is not a sport....it's a hobby, like darts......Just because it is a competitive game, doesn't make it a sport.....

KeithSwift
KeithSwift

I agree I think it's a horrible commercial. I understand the premise and the direction however the lack of execution kills it entirely.  

Each cut to the shoes is poorly lit and lacks any continuity with the previous shot, The lighting is horrible and the fake fans look like a 15 year old photoshop job. 

jeffrey.w.danford
jeffrey.w.danford

This is one of the most clear and understandable commercials in history. I actually think it's quite well done, and Tiger is back indeed! Sean Gregory, do you have some sort of learning disability we should all know about?

email45
email45

useless waste of time to read this article.  find something good to write about

sgadu
sgadu

Sean - Get a life. Journalism is not a sport.

TigerTheGOAT
TigerTheGOAT

This writer must be trying to meet his weekly quota of articles to submit to his article.  





budged
budged

a better headline for this article would have been "i'm a complete idiot, and this is why". 

EricSchneider
EricSchneider

This article should come with a warning lable advising of the risk of becoming a little dumber just by reading it!

bradbari
bradbari

Well, the article is lame. Apparently this is one of those "I can't come up with a good idea so I'll rag on something" days. The "game" vs. "sport" angle is interesting. Athleticism? I'll be much more convinced that these guys are "athletes" when they carry their own bags. Actually dealing with the conditioning necessary and then make the shots, especially during the back nine of the fourth round, would actually involve athleticism. Walking around for a couple of hours with a LOT more standing around than actual walking hardly qualifies (most Boy Scout troops take longer hikes on a Saturday than profilers walk).Now, having to develop very refined skills? Yes! But then again so do billiards pros. Golf as a billiards game on a BIG table makes far more sense. Oh, I don't EVER hear anyone making a case for billiards as a "sport". Next it would be Texas Hold 'Em.......after all, sitting for HOURS in harsh light with limited bathroom breaks takes a lot of stamina too.

bradbari
bradbari

Well, the article is lame. Apparently this is one of those "I can't come up with a good idea so I'll rag on something" days. The "game" vs. "sport" angle is interesting. Athleticism? I'll be much more convinced that these guys are "athletes" when they carry their own bags. Actually dealing with the conditioning necessary and then make the shots, especially during the back nine of the fourth round, would actually involve athleticism. Walking around for a couple of hours with a LOT more standing around than actual walking hardly qualifies (most Boy Scout troops take longer hikes on a Saturday than profilers walk).

Now, having to develop very refined skills? Yes! But then again so do billiards pros. Golf as a billiards game on a BIG table makes far more sense. Oh, I don't EVER hear anyone making a case for billiards as a "sport". Next it would be Texas Hold 'Em.......after all, sitting for HOURS in harsh light with limited bathroom breaks takes a lot of stamina too.

the_clay_bird
the_clay_bird

it's clear that this author just does not understand the commercial.  it is less about golf being a sport and more about differentiating the shoe from the classic white saddle oxford leather tradition.  its a cross-training shoe... oh yeah but it has spikes.  pretty awful article

MajorDamo
MajorDamo

So there was a tweet that linked to an ad but it's confusing because..

I couldn't find the impetus to read the whole piece. The advert, however, was clear and easy to follow. I got the overall point of it, and understood that I was after all, watching an advertisement.

Can't say the same for this article, 

josh.eadie
josh.eadie

I think you, the author, may be the only one dumb enough to not understand the comparisons and purpose of this commercial.

thegamewarden
thegamewarden

A ridiculous over-analytical report of something the author has no idea about...advertisements.  How in the world is this ad confusing???  

Looks like from the many comments below that John Q. Public seems to "get it."  And isn't that what a good ad is all about...product placement and recognition through an entertaining 30-sec clip?  Worked for me!  Nice shoes!!!

Stick to just writing about the sport itself, dude...not the business aspect.

sheptunes
sheptunes

ridiculous article. over interpreting the entire thing... this is about a more athletic looking golf shoe, worn by a more athletic golfer, appealing to athletes that like golf. 

Vaucheria
Vaucheria

Can you say "product placement?" How much did Nike pay for this ad and the link to its own ad?


JaysonSpaur
JaysonSpaur

The writer is simply over-thinking it. This commercial just shows that golf (especially to the athletes involved) has the intesity of all of these sports, whether it is visible or not.

arusoft
arusoft

Who is this idiot writer???

RandyMoran
RandyMoran

Golf is not a sport. It's a game. An incredibly difficult game, to be sure, but not a sport. That's why they call it "the game of Golf." And all of you guys going on about baseball and how it isn't hard and steroids, blah, blah, blah...just stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

andrewmfitzgerald
andrewmfitzgerald

This commercial was clear as day, and draws comparisons to the emotions and feelings that pro golfers feel in their sport to other athlete's sports.  Are you really confused by this? Worst analysis I have read in awhile.

ratinacage78
ratinacage78

there is nothing at all confusing about this commercial. you must just be really, really, really dumb to think that tiger, nike, or anyone else was suggesting that elements of other sports should be instituted into the game of golf. i want some of whatever you're smoking.

booman00
booman00

You must be a Tiger hater to write this article.....that wasn't a confusing commercial. 

JoelHead
JoelHead

You were really that confused?? 

SuperHornets
SuperHornets

The commercial isn't that confusing... it's more of what someone who takes golf seriously as a sport feels like when playing.  From the nerves of the first drive to how you feel after a missed opportunity.  From the feel of a well struck ball to the exuberance of a big win... it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out  ;-)

andyparish
andyparish

I would love to see you play against Tiger or even the worst PGA player, hell, even me! and tell me it's not a legit sport. It's more of a sport than basketball, where all you have to do is be a freakishly tall moron, more of a sport than baseball where all you do is catch a ball and try to hit it to a place where no one is while chewing tobacco and injecting yourself with steriods. Golf is precision, and takes imagination and individual skills. Something of which you probably don't have.  I'll agree that the commercial made absolutely no sense but to say that golf is less legit than other sports....that's just wrong.

coldlogic
coldlogic

@Jdmartin86 

Golf does take athletic ability to play and win - at least at that high of a level. Difference is the athletic moments are just that, moments. How long's a swing last? Half second from address to finish? But if no athletic ability were needed (or skill a'la quarterback in form) most everybody would hit the ball >300 yards, and that is obviously not true. Club speed >170MPH with coordination to square the face on that tiny ball that fast is an athletic talent, honed as a skill. That is undeniable.

Crash568
Crash568

@whatsamattau Search Websters, Britannica and other online dictionaries. None gave specifics on what criterion constitute an activity a sport so I assume your definition to is you personal opinion. If not, please direct. With your definition nose picking can be a sport?

johnymr51
johnymr51

@RandyMoran So...like archery, cycling, skeet-shooting, kayaking...etc these are sports worthy of being in the Olympics and golf..just a game? Pffft. Lame.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@NotSellingQTips @LarryMannino 

oh so confused. i wonder if he's ever watched tv before? this is an ad aimed at the lowest common denominator, it's not rocket science

whatsamattau
whatsamattau

@NotSellingQTips @whatsamattau You're correct that there is a great deal of subjectivity in officiating at all levels of sport.  Officiating is designed to keep the contest fair, and does not directly figure in the scoring.  The officials do not gather and decide that a home run was worth 6.1 runs, or 10 runs, it's always one run.  The scoring itself is not subjective, which is what differentiates sports from physical arts such as figure skating or gymnastics. 

RandyMoran
RandyMoran

@johnymr51 Yes, you are. And yes, golf is just a game and not worthy of being in the Olympics.

AjLenkowski
AjLenkowski

@the_clay_bird @RandyMoran @johnymr51 Bowling?  Sport or game?  Darts?  Golf is a game.  A game that takes a lot of practice and skill to be any sort of good.  Like darts.  Or bowling.

But I do agree with the author of this lame article:  let the crowd make noise!  It should be rock and roll golf.

the_clay_bird
the_clay_bird

@RandyMoran @johnymr51 its pretty obvious you don't know what you are talking about.  Golf takes as much or more athletic ability than the average olympic sport. is it track and field? no, but its a sport.  monopoly is a game.  chess is a game. golf is a sport


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