Nike, one-time sponsor to suspected murderer Oscar Pistorious and Oprah-approved doper Lance Armstrong, pushed out its latest Tiger Woods comeback ad last night on Facebook, where it's been shared more than 8,000 times, with messages of support and messages of disgust and general argument because, well, Nike's message is simple — and brazen: "Winning Takes Care of Everything." The slogan is pegged to the news that Nike is sticking by its poster boy once more after he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday. But it also comes in the neverending shadow of his affairs. And, sure, Tiger has gotten back to where he was on the course before the bottom fell out on his personal life: He's once again the top-ranked golfer in the the world. And plenty of the comments on Nike Golf's Facebook post were up for congratulating that:
Go Tiger! Rawr! Bbut ... wait. Isn't this the same guy with enough extramarital affairs to give HuffPo material to create a Tiger Woods Mistresses section on its website, to ruin his marriage, and change the lives of his young children? Oh, yeah. Right. And obviously the insinuation that "Winning Takes Care of Everything" is at least some sort of not so subtle nod to the everything-ness of those dalliances, and obviously the connected has been much frowned upon by people in the same Nike Facebook thread:
All of which brings us back to the scabbed-over argument about whether Woods is and can still be a role model:
Though that last user there is sort of missing the point — a lot fewer people are probably upset with Tiger Woods for having a potty mouth than for his 14 mistresses — he is bringing up a valid point that tends to surface whenever our athletes let us down: These people don't ask to be emulated.
But it's Nike that invited those questions all over again, obliquely if not directly, in a pretty head-on statement about Woods that perhaps tries to veer him back toward role-model territory. This is the same Nike marketing department that stood by its man throughout the scandal even as other sponsorship deals vanished, that brought him back into the, uh, fore with this creepy video ad upon Tiger's return to competition, complete with Earl Woods voiceover and What It All Means:
And this is the same marketing department that has now chosen to take to social media with a coy message from the copy team that's angering a lot of people elsewhere:
Nike has a new Tiger Woods ad with the slogan, "winning takes care of everything." Don't start believing that,Tiger.cbssports.com/golf/blog/eye-…— Lucianne Goldberg (@LucianneLinks) March 26, 2013
Nike has not issued a statement regarding the ad, its meaning, the meanings people are extracting from it, or whether winning takes care of everything for Armstrong or Pistorius. Which means the ad speaks for itself, and it's speaking volumes. Meanwhile: Tiger Woods, fighting machine.