Archive for the ‘Tiger Woods’ Category

Dead man talking: Tiger’s Nike spot interpreted

April 8, 2010

Tiger Woods and his father.


NEW YORK, April 8, 2010 — Stop wondering what Tiger Woods’ new Nike “ad” means — it’s not that complicated, though it is unusual and, to many people, downright strange.

Let’s break it down: This 30-second spot, filmed in black-and-white, consists of Tiger Woods looking straight into a camera lens which has framed him from the chest up. He has a grim, almost shell-shocked expression on his face — which is to say, he is apparently feeling “serious” as opposed to “jovial,” in which case he would presumably be smiling.

Why the grim look? Because the “commercial” presents this scenario in which a serious, perhaps contemplative Woods, is thinking about or perhaps listening to the words of his late father, Earl — words recorded long ago in some context that is not revealed, but have now been repurposed — in the ad and, by extension, in Woods’ mind — to apply directly to the situation in which Woods finds himself today.

The voice of Earl begins: “Tiger? I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was.”

In this new use of this old recording, Woods’ “thinking” refers to what he “thought” at the time when he was conducting his extramarital affairs.

“I want to find out what your feelings are.” This, of course, is now supposed to serve as an inquiry into how Woods feels now that his public image has been tarnished, his earning power weakened and his domestic life nearly destroyed.

“And did you learn anything?” This one’s easy: Has Woods learned anything from the scandal? Does he feel chastised or humbled? And will he dramatically change his behavior now and forever?

At this point in the spot, the voiceover ends while the camera moves in for a tighter shot on Woods’ face. At that moment, some lights seem to flash, perhaps representing flashes from the cameras of paparazzi, symbolizing the intense glare of the media attention now being paid to Woods for reasons other than his golf game. And suddenly, the spot ends with a glimpse of the Nike swoosh.

So, what does it mean? It’s really just this: The words voiced by Earl are meant to represent what we, the public, are all thinking. We’re all wondering: Hey, Tiger, what were you thinking? We all want to know (according to the spot): How are you feeling about it? We’re all curious to find out: Tiger, are you going to change your behavior?

Well, of course the whole thing is shrewdly calculated to get you talking about Tiger Woods. This is the kind of ad that, because of its subject matter and timing (premiering on the eve of Woods’ “comeback” at the Masters) — not to mention its eerie texture — is being featured in every morning newspaper today, and every media Web site. It was designed to go viral and get talked about and it succeeded.

It is also supposed to generate sympathy — or the beginnings of sympathy — for Woods in the way it presents this scandalized celebrity in a meditative, perhaps chastised frame of mind and engaging in an inner dialogue with his late father. Woods and his father had a famously close relationship and the commercial seems to suggest that Woods, in listening to the words of his father, realizes he has let his father down.  At the same time, his father’s inquiring tone implies that, if Tiger can summon up the courage to explain his actions and take responsibility for them, then his father — and, by extension, all of us — will then forgive him.

Cynics will say Woods and Nike are merely exploiting Woods’ dead father for an ad that represents only the first step in a shrewdly calculated corporate ad campaign whose goal is the eventual rehabilitation of Woods’ image and, hence, his effectiveness as a spokesman for Nike.  The cynics would be right.

On the other hand, many people make mistakes in their lives and after they’re caught (an often fortuitous event because it applies a much-needed brake to their behavior), they are suddenly better able to see the damage they’ve caused and then make sincere efforts to change and make amends.   Sure, it’s easy to be cynical about a corporate ad campaign.  But you can look at Tiger Woods another way too — he’s just a guy, like many others, who got swept up in behavior he’s now ashamed of.  And now he wants to find his way back.  Certainly, that is not a crime.

Contact Adam Buckman:


‘The Tiger Show’ an odd moment in TV history

February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods, the man who controlled the airwaves for 15 minutes.


NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2010 —  The 15-minute “Tiger Woods Show,” starring Tiger Woods, will stand as one of the oddest telecasts in television history.

Never before had a private figure been given so much valuable airtime on so many TV channels to say whatever he wanted.  He’s not a president, not a governor, not a Pope — he is basically an entertainer, a professional golfer and a ubiquitous presence on TV commercials (until recently).

And yet, he garnered airtime on CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC; MSNBC, CNN and Fox News Channel; CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business; ESPN 1, ESPN 2 and ESPNNews; and, of course, the Golf Channel (and here in New York, on the local cable news channel, New York 1).

And the telecast, with its two cameras, simple podium and blue velvet drapery, couldn’t have been more basic, which is when Murphy’s Law usually asserts itself — when you least expect it — and one of the cameras, the head-on camera, went on the blink and Woods was left to recite at least a third of his remarks seen from the side.  With no frontal camera shot available through which to broadcast his sincerity (if that is what it was), the impact of his carefully planned message was thereby blunted, if not ruined entirely.

On the one hand, you can’t blame all these networks for breaking into regular programming — among them “The View” and “The Price is Right” — for something so many viewers were keenly interested in watching.  On the other hand, the sports channels, the all-news cable channels and the business channels had it pretty well-covered, which means interested viewers had plenty of places they could go to find Tiger Woods.  They didn’t really need the broadcast networks to take part.

It would have been refreshing if network news executives had said no when asked to acquiesce to a celebrity’s carefully controlled plan to air a statement of apology on national TV, a plan that included near-total control over the event, and hence control over the airwaves of all of our national television networks.

Who’s next?  Charlie Sheen?  How about Jon Gosselin getting 10 minutes of daytime airtime to apologize to Kate and their eight children?  Or maybe Snooki and the others from “Jersey Shore” getting 20 minutes to apologize for their show (among other things)?  Of course not.

Still, the word is out: Celebrities, big ones, are now to be accorded the same access to the airwaves as presidents and prime ministers.  Behold: You have just witnessed another milestone in the evolution of celebrity culture in America.

Contact Adam Buckman:

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