Nike “Earl and Tiger”

By now, many folks have seen Wieden’s Nike spot with Tiger Woods listening to questions posed by the voice of his dead father. Some have decried the clip as creepy and self-serving. That’s a valid interpretation. Others have praised the piece as a powerful examination of human vulnerability. That’s also true, perhaps, though it might be overstating the case. My initial reaction was: Why use the late Earl Woods at all, especially since he supposedly cheated both with and on Tiger’s mother? Then I thought: Who better than Earl? The allegations against the elder Woods add resonance and meaning, and the history of this intense father-son relationship imbues the spot with special power. Consider: this man literally made Tiger who and what he is. Earl is perhaps the only person the golf icon would answer to — honestly, with all overlays of fame, money and marketing discarded — if such a conversation were possible. It’s telling that in the monochrome clip, Tiger doesn’t speak. No doubt he’d like to pose some pointed questions of his own. His sad face conveys an understanding that the man he longs to ask, the only person who could conceivably supply some answers, can never reply. –David Gianatasio (See also: Adweek’s Barbara Lippert discusses the spot on CBS News.)