Nike's ad leaves experts wondering

Nike's ad leaves experts wondering

0610_ATS08PORTLAND Nike’s jaw-droppingly weird Tiger Woods ad, produced by Wieden + Kennedy and featuring the voice of Woods’ dead father, continues to garner attention (3 million-plus hits at nike.com and counting) because, advertising experts say, it doesn’t say anything.

Ads encourage people to buy goods, support causes, or think certain thoughts. Past Nike ads sent messages as direct as “just do it.” But viewers are left in the Woods’ ad to decide what to think about Woods’ recent shenanigans.

“There’s no telling in this ad. It’s so much more contemplative than almost any other ad anywhere,” says Kim Sheehan, a University of Oregon advertising professor.

The ad, says Jeremy Mullman, sports marketing reporter for the industry publication Advertising Age, subtly places Nike above any backlash, while continuing to identify Nike with Woods. That will result in financial benefit once things blow over, Mullman predicts.

Nike has backed controversial athletes in the past. But, says Mullman, it’s the first time Nike has produced an ad about an athlete so soon after the controversy. Nike re-introduced Kobe Bryant over years, not months. But those ads were clearly supportive of Bryant, unlike the Woods ad.

“It’s almost suggesting that Nike isn’t sure” what to say about Woods, Sheehan says.

AMANDA WALDROUPE